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Author's Chapter Notes:

Sorry if this makes no sense, I was going to wait until morning to finish this but now it's 6:30AM and I've been up all night so I probably rambled. But anyway stream folklore by TSwift

 

Disclaimer: I own nothing. All characters, references, songs, etc belong to their rightful owners! 

Make sure nobody sees you leave

Hood over your head

Keep your eyes down

Tell your friends you're out for a run

You'll be flushed when you return

 

She knew there was always something a little more to their relationship. She’s had other best friends before, and she’s not stupid. Best friends don’t look at you the way Jim does, or makes you laugh the way Jim does, or memorizes tiny details like your favorite yogurt flavor the way Jim does. She’s been with Roy for almost ten years and she would bet her next paycheck that he wouldn’t know that she prefers mixed berry over vanilla. So, she knows that there was something there, even if she tried to deny it. After all, she was engaged. She couldn’t acknowledge the fact that her coworker knew more about her and made her smile than her own fiancée.

 

So, she rooted for Roy in the company basketball game. She told Jim to go after that job in Maryland even though it would kill her to see him leave. She told him to put her down at the dojo when she noticed Meredith looking. She listened to Roy instead of Jim when Jan told her about art classes. She did all these things because she couldn’t allow herself to give up the stability that she has gained over the past ten years with Roy for a what-if with Jim, even if he makes her happier than Roy ever has.

 

But that doesn’t mean she didn’t give into it a little bit. She knows it was wrong, that she was possibly leading him on and giving him mixed signals, but she couldn’t seem to help herself when it came to Jim. She loved the feeling she got when they sat on the roof, eating cold grilled cheese and watching Dwight and Kevin set off fireworks. She loved watching his smile grow bigger as she pulled everything out of the teapot, retelling the memories that went along with each item. She loved getting moments alone with Jim, whether it was conspiring against Dwight together or shopping for Kevin’s get well soon gifts.

 

She almost felt guilty since she kept those moments to herself, never telling Roy in case he thought she would cheat on him and do something drastic. She told half-truths and changed the subject when Roy asked about her day, avoiding eye contact and sinking further into the seat of the truck as they drove home. She couldn’t risk losing Jim, the only person she felt truly understood her.

 

She thought Jim understood, anyway. Understood that they couldn’t be more than friends. That their moments together, no matter how close she holds them to her heart, could never go beyond the confines of a close friendship. She thought she was careful enough, making sure Jim wouldn’t get close enough to risk anything. Especially after he admitted to having a crush when he first started here, she figured he was happy with their current relationship. Best friends who knew each other better than anyone else but couldn’t be anything more. It’s just how things worked, and she thought they were both happy that way.  

 

Take the road less traveled by

Tell yourself you can always stop

What started in beautiful rooms

Ends with meetings in parking lots

 

That’s why she never expected that she would have been standing in front of him in the parking lot of their workplace as he poured his heart out to her. She can barely remember what she said, only the look on his face and the tears in his eyes as she made up excuses, trying so hard to find solid ground. Her world crumbled as he walked past her and she tried to turn around, tell him to come back, let her have a moment to breathe, but her feet felt like concrete, cemented to the asphalt until she finally found the strength to go upstairs and call the only person who might be able to make sense of what had just happened.

 

But then he decided he wasn’t done and next thing she knew his lips were on hers and it was the best thing she had ever felt as her hands found his hair and his wrapped around her back, pressing their bodies together. Then for just a moment she allowed herself to be honest, that she had wanted to do that for a long time too. But then he leaned down for another kiss and her walls went up and she turned him away.

 

And that's the thing about illicit affairs

And clandestine meetings

And longing stares

It's born from just one single glance

But it dies and it dies and it dies

...a million little times

 

She saw the devastation on his face as he turned to walk away. This is what she had wanted to avoid, this heartbreak. She knew she wouldn’t have the courage to risk it all and break it off with Roy. She knew she didn’t have the guts to admit that ever since she met Jim, she felt a connection but couldn’t act on it. She had tried to stop it so many times. Pretending to forget that she kissed him at the Dundies, cutting him off on the Booze Cruise when she knows he was going to say something that would change their lives, acting as if finding out that Jim had liked her at one point wasn’t a big deal. She could brush those moments off, pretend they never happened.

 

She’s not too naïve to think that she wasn’t on the verge of an emotional affair with Jim. But she thought she was quick enough to push aside any feelings that may have him think that she could be more than what he wanted.

 

The knowing looks were just because their boss was borderline insane. The fact that she made sure his favorite jellybeans were always stocked up was only because he visited reception the most. She had to help him with the copier because he always forgot which combination to press in order to make a photocopy, even though he has to make them a couple times a week. Their shared smiles were because sometimes they couldn’t believe they were the only two normal people in their office. She denied any feelings outside of friendship because that’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re engaged to another man.

 

But then she found out that Jim transferred to Stamford and all those feelings hit her like a truck. She had never fully resonated with the saying, “you never know what you have until it’s gone” until she saw Ryan sitting at Jim’s desk and she realized the man she was in love with was not the same man who gave her the ring that suddenly felt very heavy on her left ring finger.

 

Leave the perfume on the shelf

That you picked out just for him

So you leave no trace behind

Like you don't even exist

 

She knows she shouldn’t be here, three hours away from home. She should be in bed, considering it’s nearing 1AM and she has work in a few hours, but instead she finds herself in Stamford, staring at his apartment complex from her car across the street. She’s been here a few times now, never allowing herself to get close enough to determine which specific apartment is his, despite memorizing his address the moment Stamford’s employee records were updated. She doesn’t want him to know that she’s here, even though all she wants to do is bang on his door until he’s right there in front of her and she can beg him to come back, give her another chance, let her show him how much she’s changed and how she’s braver now. She’s not the same person who said, “I can’t” and let him walk away four months ago. She’s attending art classes. She’s standing up for herself. She called off her wedding. She wants to tell him that she did all of this because of him. Because he believed in her when no one else did and now she knows it’s because he loved her like no one else would.

 

But they haven’t talked since she made the mistake of telling him she was still going to marry Roy, so she stays where she is. She’s braver now, more confident, but she’s still afraid. Afraid that he might hate her now or has already moved on to someone better. She sinks further into her seat and pulls her sweatshirt closer to her body, the early fall air growing colder as the night goes on and starts creeping into her car. She looks down as she picks at the fake leather of her steering wheel, watching little black flecks peel off slowly. She wonders if he’s changed at all like she has ever since he left. Wonders if he tried to have a fresh start in this new town, or if he’s still the goofy, charming, funny guy who loves to prank and hates his job.

 

She frowns when she realizes how only four months ago Jim was the one person she knew better than anyone else, including her own fiancée, and now she has no idea who he could be. Did getting rejected break him? Did it make him change into a completely different person if only to try to forget that night in the parking lot so he can slowly piece his heart back together? Was he sad for a couple days and then got over it? Moving on to bigger and better things, leaving Scranton and her behind as if they were just a blip on his radar, a small chapter of his story? Is he still grieving? Mourning the loss of his best friend and the girl he loved?

 

That’s the thing she wonders about most often, if he still loves her. If his confessions were as real as she remembers or if he realized he could do so much better after he left the small town in Pennsylvania that was holding him back so much. She looks up and glances around, seeing the Stamford city lights glowing in the distance. She always wanted him to move on, become something so much more than a paper salesman, she just never realized how much it would hurt when he was actually gone.

 

She sticks her key into the ignition and turns the car on, the cold air finally getting to be too much. She lets the air around her grow warmer as she looks back towards the apartment complex. She considers leaving, pretending she was never here just like all those other times she’s pulled into this same parking spot and watched from a distance.

 

Take the words for what they are

A dwindling, mercurial high

A drug that only worked

The first few hundred times

 

But then she thinks of his face four months ago, full of heartbreak and desolation. She’s seen that face a million times, etched into her mind like a photograph. She decides on two truths as she backs out of her parking spot. The first truth being that this is the last time she will drive up to Stamford only to stare at brick buildings that hold no meaning outside of the resident of apartment 104. The second truth is that she can’t go home until she knows if this is really over, so she can move on and forget about Jim Halpert once and for all. Because she knows that if she doesn’t find out whether or not he still loves her, she won’t be able to stop thinking about everything they used to be and everything she wishes they were.

 

She’s pretty sure it’s just sleep deprivation making her think this is a good idea, but she finds herself pulling into the first block of apartments anyway, scanning doors until she finds the one she’s looking for. She puts her car in park and as she steps out of the car, she wonders if this is how Jim felt when he poured his heart out to her.

 

Her stomach is churning, and she feels lightheaded, but she knows this is her chance to redo their casino night, if he still feels the same way. She looks down and takes a deep breath before walking up to the door and knocking. She waits a minute then knocks again a little louder, trying not to wake anyone else up in the process. She’s about to knock again when she hears the deadbolt unlock and the knob turn.

 

All of her confidence leaves the moment she sees him in front of her. He’s wearing blue pajama pants and a plain white t-shirt, his hair is a little longer than she remembers, messed up from sleeping. His eyebrows are furrowed and he’s staring at her as if she either has three heads or if she’s just a figment of his imagination, she can’t tell. But neither one can seem to find their voice for a moment, the only sounds surrounding them coming from downtown a few blocks away.

 

He rubs his eyes with one hand before looking back at her and finally asking, “Pam… what are you doing here?”

 

And that's the thing about illicit affairs

And clandestine meetings

And longing stares

It's born from just one single glance

But it dies and it dies and it dies

...a million little times

 

She clears her throat and shrugs a little, stuffing her hands into her jean pockets. She wants to crawl away, go back to the safety of Scranton and her bed where she can go to sleep and wake up tomorrow to pretend everything is okay. But she stays where she is, because everything isn’t okay when he’s not back in Scranton with her. “I needed to see you.”

He leans against the door frame, his face still filled with confusion, but she takes it as a good sign that he hasn’t slammed the door in her face yet. “At one in the morning?”

She shakes her head and gestures towards the parking lot across the street, “I’ve actually been here for a while. I just couldn’t leave without seeing you. I needed you to know some things.”

He sighs and runs a hand through his hair, only messing it up more and she can’t help but smile a little before she sees him frowning. “Listen, I’m happy to see you and everything, I just can’t—”

“Please. I just need to let you know, get this all off my chest, otherwise I’m going to go insane. And then if you never want to see me again or talk to me again or whatever, then that’s fine. But I can’t go any longer without knowing that you can have the full story now.”

He nods and she takes a deep breath before continuing. “I wasn’t lying when I said ‘I can’t’ back in May. I was engaged, had been engaged for almost four years and was getting married in less than a month when you turned my world upside down. I couldn’t just run away with you, Jim. That’s not how the world works. I felt like I was drowning, and I needed a moment to catch my breath but by then you had already left the state.”

“Pam, I—”

“I’m not done. I’m not here to yell at you or blame you or whatever. I just need you to know my side of the story. I wasn’t blind. I knew there was something more between us, you didn’t misinterpret anything. We were more than just best friends. I had just gotten so good at denying everything I felt between us that when you told me that you loved me, I didn’t know how to react. I got scared and I latched onto the only thing I knew was certain in that moment. I regret that now; I should have told you the full truth that night. But I also think I needed this time between relationships. I started art classes, and I started standing up for myself. I called off my wedding because I realized I’m not in love with Roy. I did all of these things for me, but I also did them because of you.”

 

And you wanna scream

Don't call me kid

Don't call me baby

Look at this godforsaken mess that you made me

You showed me colors you know I can't see with anyone else

Don't call me kid

Don't call me baby

Look at this idiotic fool that you made me

You taught me a secret language I can't speak with anyone else

And you know damn well

For you I would ruin myself

...a million little times

 

“There were a lot of reasons to call off my wedding, but I didn’t care about any of those reasons until I met you. Ever since we met, I knew that we would be close, but, God, you don’t know how much you mean to me. The only reason I haven’t quit this stupid job is because I know I get to see you every day. It’s miserable there without you. I miss having fun with you. I miss pranking Dwight and making fun of Michael and taking bets on how many times Kelly would come over to talk to you about Ryan. I miss making up words for things that no one else cares about but we think it’s hilarious. I just miss being able to look up and see you and realize that yeah, I have a crappy job and a crazy boss, and my coworkers drive me insane, but it’s okay because you’re there to make me smile. And I know I’m four months too late and I’m rambling like a crazy person, but I love you too and I just needed you to know that.”

She looks at him and he’s grinning and she’s not sure why he is, but she grins back because it’s been four months and she has missed that smile so much. He steps forward and mumbles just loud enough for her to hear, “God, I’ve missed you,” before grabbing her cheek with one hand and her waist with the other and pressing his lips to hers. Her hands find his hair and for a moment she’s transported back to their dark office but then his tongue and trailing along her bottom lip and as she deepens the kiss and he pulls her inside, she realizes this is real and perfect and even better than she had hoped for. She can’t help but smile into the kiss as she pulls him closer, never wanting to let go again.

Chapter End Notes:
Not thrilled with the very ending but like i said it's 6:30AM so that's what we get. Hope you all liked it! Hopefully more folklore fics will be showing up soon, too!


nicemorningtoo is the author of 26 other stories.
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