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Story Notes:
This is pure fluff, with any hint of substance filtered out. If you spot any substance, please let me know in your review so I can ruthlessly eliminate it. Also please feel free to review harshly, because even as fluff I feel like this might be missing something. (Possibly substance.)

As noted in the summary, this is set in late Season 5, with Pam a newly minted member of the sales staff.

DISCLAIMER: Now that I own the building, I'm looking for new sources of revenue. And fanfiction about publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. that are the property of their respective owners that I’m in no way associated with, using my own original characters and plot that does not intend copyright infringement… (maniacal laughter) Well, I guess it's not an evil idea. It's just a regular idea. And for legal reasons not a profitable idea. But there is no good laugh for a regular idea.

We open with JIM and PAM in the conference room doing a talking head. They are silent. JIM looks embarrassed. He shakes his head, adjusts his jaw, rubs the back of his neck… this is a troubled man. PAM, by contrast, is fighting not to laugh, and by the looks of it is moments away from losing the fight.

We take a few beats.

JIM:
I… have a problem.

We cut to the BULLPEN – first a wide shot to establish that JIM, DWIGHT and PAM are sitting at the FRONT DESK CLUSTER, and ERIN is at RECEPTION. JIM and PAM are dressed differently than they are in the talking head.

We shift to a close-up on a bored-looking JIM. He sighs in sad acknowledgement of his lot in life. He then drums his fingers on his desk, shoves himself up and out of his chair, and starts towards RECEPTION. PAM turns her head to look at him… from her new desk. He pauses as he realizes his error. He turns towards her, and finds her raising her eyebrows at him.

JIM pretends to stretch.

JIM:
Feeling a little stiff.

PAM makes a hmm-ing noise, as if to suggest “of course you are, sweetie.” MICHAEL charges out of his office ridiculously excited, opening his mouth and about to speak as we…

…cut back to the talking head. Jim is still shame-faced. Pam is getting closer and closer to the edge.

JIM (irritated):
Look, when you do something five times a day, or ten…

PAM (barely holding it together)
Or fifteen…

JIM:
Or whatever… after a while, it just becomes a reflex.

We cut to the BULLPEN – the same wide shot establishing JIM, DWIGHT, PAM and ERIN at their usual posts, with each of them in slightly different clothes to indicate it’s a new day.

We shift to a close-up of JIM on the phone. He thanks the customer for their time, hangs up, and drums his fingers on his desk. He then shoves himself up and out of his chair and starts towards RECEPTION. He sees ERIN – who gives him a gigantic smile and waves enthusiastically. He then makes a hard left turn, gesturing to PAM with his thumb to indicate where he’s headed. In the background, we see ERIN’s smile fall the tiniest bit as she puts her hand down.

JIM:
Bathroom.

PAM (without looking away from her work):
Thanks for the update.

We zoom in on PAM, who shakes her head, still seemingly focused on selling paper. She has the smallest hint of a smile.

We cut to the BULLPEN – the same wide shot establishing JIM, DWIGHT, PAM and ERIN at their usual posts, with each of them in (another set of) slightly different clothes to indicate it’s a (another) new day.

We shift to a close-up of JIM, who finishes typing an email and hits the enter key to send it - unnecessarily dramatically, it should be noted. He then drums his fingers on his desk, shoves himself up and out of his chair and starts towards RECEPTION. He sees ERIN – who smiles and waves a little more calmly than last time. He awkwardly puts his cell phone from his pocket.

JIM (to ERIN):
Mind holding my calls for a bit?

ERIN (putting her hand down, smiling but definitely thrown):
Sure!

JIM (to PAM):
Have to check in with my sister about something.

PAM (without looking away from her work):
Tell her I say hi.

JIM turns right to exit the office.

We zoom in on PAM, who rolls her eyes, then curls her mouth so as to indicate that she’s really enjoying this.

We cut to the BULLPEN. We’re in the same wide shot establishing JIM, DWIGHT, PAM and ERIN at their usual posts, with each of them in (yet another set of) slightly different clothes to indicate it’s a (yet another) new day. JIM and PAM are wearing what they are wearing in the talking head – we have arrived at the present day.

We shift to a close-up of JIM, who signs a document, drums his fingers on his desk, then shoves himself up and out of his chair and starts towards RECEPTION. He sees ERIN – who tentatively lifts her hand in greeting – and stops.

JIM (scrambling to cover):
Anyone want something from the vending machines? I was gonna get a snack. Pam?

PAM turns toward him. In the background, ERIN lowers her hand again.

JIM (still talking a little too fast):
You want some Sun Chips? Maybe Skittles? You know what, I’ll get you both! Because I love you, and I want you to have everything you want the second you want it.

PAM (smiling at him as if to say “you’re so full of crap”):
That’d be great, sweetie.

JIM:
I’ll be right back. I love you!

In the background, ERIN looks like she’s about to speak up with her snack request, but JIM is already walking swiftly towards the break room. She’s noticeably disappointed.

We zoom in on PAM as DWIGHT mockingly and soundlessly mimics JIM’s last line. She chuckles to herself once, and tries to stop herself from chuckling again – her expression exactly as it was at the beginning of her talking head with JIM.

We return to the original talking head interview, where PAM has given up the fight and is now openly snickering at JIM. JIM looks and sounds exasperated and is gesturing wildly with his hands.

JIM:
It’s just… it’s hard to break the habit, you know? Even if you know you… don’t need to do it anymore.

PAM:
(pats Jim on the shoulder condescendingly) Of course it is, Halpert. So hard. (turns straight to camera) It’s also possible that Jim was never really into me, he just has a thing for receptionists.

PAM shakes her head and clucks her tongue, sadly. It’s a real shame. JIM shoots her an annoyed look. She’s not helping. She gives him that tongue-between-the-teeth smile and a quick raise of her eyebrows, because she absolutely wasn’t trying to help.

JIM (isn’t going to take this lying down):
(to PAM) I did always think Ronnie was cute. (to the camera) And I had a big crush on Valerie back in Stamford. All that talk about her stamp collection… plus, that sassy old-lady bob and the floral print pants? That really got my motor runnin’.

PAM (to JIM, inches away from losing it completely):
So is there something about ringing phones, or is it the way we’re required to smile at you when you walk in the door, or…

JIM (to PAM, fully back in smart-ass Jim mode):
It might be the office equipment. (Pam is nodding along, because of course that’s what it is.) The fax, the printer… mmmmmm, the copier. (Pam’s eyebrows are about as high as they can get. She is shaking with the effort of holding it together.) I did lose my virginity in a Kinko’s, you know.

PAM snorts and finally melts down into full-on laughter.

JIM:
You okay there, Beesly?

PAM (through her giggles):
I’m good!

JIM shakes his head. He then looks to the camera and gestures towards her as if to say “see what I have to deal with.”

PAM (wipes at the corner of her eye as she gets control of herself):
It’s fine. I’m on the case. I’ve been reading on the Internet about “behavioral conditioning” and how to rewire the brain, and I think I’ve got a plan that will help.

We return to the mostly empty BULLPEN the next morning. PAM is settling in at her new desk for the day, and puts a small dish from her purse on one of its corners. She then fills it from a bag of jelly beans. She turns to the camera and presents her solution with a game show model’s flourish.

We do a quick cut to later in the day, with JIM, PAM, DWIGHT and ERIN at their usual posts. JIM drums his fingers on his desk and is about to shove himself out of his chair. PAM, without looking, pushes the bowl of jelly beans at him. This catches his attention. He looks over to her and gives a very sweet grin. He grabs one, pops it in his mouth, then rolls his chair over next to hers.

JIM (still grinning):
Hi.

PAM (turns to him beaming):
Hey.

In the background, DWIGHT rolls his eyes.

JIM (in solo talking head, starting in voiceover with a shot of a bantering JIM and PAM):
Yeah. It’s not about the office equipment.

He smiles the smile of a guy who wakes up every morning to find his wildest dream has come true.

PAM (in solo talking head, deadpan):
It’s gonna take some time, but I’ll retrain him eventually. Because it isn’t about the office equipment. (beat) It’s about the candy.

PAM beams again.

We cut back to the FRONT DESK CLUSTER, where JIM and PAM are chatting away with the jelly bean dish between them. Each has one hand very close to the bowl. The camera zooms in as JIM very subtly, very lightly takes the tips of her fingers between his.

The camera then moves to ERIN, who is watching this looking very upset.

We cut to a talking head with ERIN.

ERIN (genuinely distressed):
I just… I feel like Jim doesn’t like me! Every time he sees me, he immediately turns the other way, and now Pam put out jellybeans at her desk so he can avoid me completely? (makes frustrated noise) I mean… what did I do???

NETWORK NOTES: REJECTED. These are supposed to be FUNNY, not put me at risk of a diabetic coma. Also, I don’t know if the Kinko’s thing is too much or if it’s just not worth going to the trouble of figuring out if it’s fair use or not, but it’s definitely one or the other.

Chapter End Notes:
H/t to JennaBennett for the name of the Stamford receptionist – who I could not identify from the episodes. I didn’t describe her like this, but my top candidate is the woman sitting beside Jim in the meeting in “Gay Witch Hunt” where Josh announces they’ll be having diversity training. Just because she also has curly hair and wears button downs and sits next to Jim, and I like the idea that that’s a core part of the job responsibilities for Dunder Mifflin receptionists.


darjeelingandcoke is the author of 15 other stories.
This story is a favorite of 3 members. Members who liked The Receptionist Reflex also liked 142 other stories.
This story is part of the series, Rejected Cold Opens. The previous story in the series is Murder Pool. The next story in the series is Earth Out of Balance.

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