She startled and finally realized that Oscar had been trying to get her attention. She shook her head quickly.
“Hmm? Oh, sorry...hey Oscar…”
He tilted his head to the side and looked at her as if her dog had just gotten sent to “the farm”. Frankly, she was tired of the whole office looking at her like that, pitying “poor ol’ Pam”, who’s ex-boyfriend—fiancé—whatever—had just barged into the office and tried to pummel her best friend.
He had tried to pummel Jim.
It seemed like everyone was having a hard time keeping their eyes off of her. Everyone except one person, that is. The one pair of eyes she actually wanted to meet couldn’t be bothered to turn around and seek hers out.
Grabbing her tea, she managed to escape into the break room, desperate to dodge the staring that seemed to come from every direction but one. She slowly lifted the teabag up and down, staring blankly into the swirling liquid when he walked in, eyes fixed ahead. She tried to lighten the mood, tried to explain herself, but damnit if he would just look at her.
But when he finally did, the subtle disdain on his tongue made her wish he hadn’t looked at her at all. I’m sure you’ll find your way back to one another some day. What was that supposed to mean?
So she apologized. She apologized for Roy, yes, but woven and stretched within the fabric of that apology, was remorse for so much more. For her indecisiveness, for not calling, for breaking his heart so he could break hers right back. But it seemed like putting a small bandaid on a severed limb, pointless and futile, when he brushed it off and went back to work.
She made her way back to her desk, this time averting her eyes from him, as if it even mattered—he wasn’t looking anyway. The fractures that had been splintering through their friendship ever since he came back to Scranton were finally converging and now she felt like she was staring down the deep valley they created, looking at her own rock bottom.
She glanced up at the back of his head, briefly remembering how it felt to run her fingers through his hair. But then she realized how quickly the visual of the back of his head had replaced the visual of his face that she used to see every day and the chasm split just a little more. But this time, instead of just grief pooling up in the cracks, it was anger. It was frustration. It was months of let downs and awkward break room encounters and not knowing how to interact with her best friend, and she just couldn’t do it anymore. She took off her cardigan because her body temperature began to rise along with her anger. She was trying. Damnit, she was trying. She couldn’t hit a magic rewind button and go back to May to the parking lot where she made the first giant splinter in their relationship. But since Jim had been back she had been trying her hardest to get back to some sort of semblance of what they were before all of that.
But apparently hate was a hard thing to reverse. Maybe he didn’t actually hate her, but that was the only explanation she had for the cold shoulders and the passive aggressive comments. Because it wasn’t Jim. Not anymore. And she just couldn’t desperately try to patch up these cracks by herself anymore because it was becoming too much. She had broken him--them. And he had to hate her for it. Her only choice was to take the blame so she wouldn’t start to hate him too.
The end of the day came. She decided to leave before he did so she wouldn’t have to wonder if he’d actually say goodnight or at the very least, look in her direction. The fact that she even had to wonder that at all made her clench her teeth, unable to tell if she’d rather cry or scream about how much had changed. About how she spent so many nights with a bottle of wine, overthinking every one of their interactions since May.
About a mile into her drive, she noticed something felt off in her car. Great, she thought as she pulled to the side of the road. This car was brand new and now there was something broken. She slammed the gear shift into park and stepped out to see if there was anything visibly wrong with it. She knew nothing about cars. Roy was always the one who took care of stuff like this. She planted her hands on her hips and looked to the sky with a heavy sigh. Just one more reminder that she was alone and so incredibly far from where she thought she would be a year ago.
Walking around to the front of the car, she lifted the hood, pretending she even knew the function of anything under there. There was no smoke. That had to be a good sign.
Then suddenly she heard the crunch of gravel as a car pulled behind her own. Peeking around the hood, her stomach gave a quick lurch. Before he even got out of the car, she knew it was him. Of all people, Jim Halpert had to be the one to stop, and while she was actively trying so hard not to hate him, no less.
“Need help?” he called to her.
She shut the hood and watched him walk closer. “No, uh, something just felt weird while I was driving. But I can probably just get it to a shop or something.”
“Mind if I take a look?” he asked, pointing inside the car.
“Be my guest,” she replied.
Jim opened the car door and somehow fit his long frame into her tiny car, finally finding the lever under the seat to push the chair back. He started the engine and began looking around for some indication of something wrong.
Seeing him there in her car, instantly made her flashback to five years ago when he had asked her to teach him how to drive stick shift. He had borrowed his best friend Mark’s car to learn with after she had mocked him mercilessly for not knowing how to drive one. After one particularly jerky stretch of road, Pam took over and drove them to the nearest burger joint to grab them dinner and put the lesson on hold. They parked the car, eating and laughing until the windows were all completely fogged over and Pam suggested they roll them down. “Beesly,” he replied, laughing. “It’s December! It has to be like, 20 degrees out there.” So instead, they had a competition as to who could write the clearest with their non-dominant hand on the foggy windows. It was late and they were getting slap-happy, so when Jim wrote an “S” backwards, they both had tears streaming down their faces from laughing.
Her chest ached to have moments like that with him again.
“Well,” Jim said, snapping her out of her trance. “Think I found the problem.”
“You left the parking brake on.”
Her cheeks flushed with embarrassment. “Well, THAT makes me feel competent,” she droned sarcastically.
Jim released the break and stepped out of her car. “Hey,” he offered. “Happens to the best of us!” He gave her a Stamford Jim smile. “But you should be good to go now. See you tomorrow?”
Her eyebrows furrowed. “Yeah…thanks…”
“Yep, no big deal,” he shrugged and turned toward his car.
She felt a wave of every emotion come over her. Anger, grief, frustration, regret. A year ago, he would have been cracking jokes about this. They would have been laughing, together. He may have even offered to go get coffee with her to celebrate not embarrassing herself at a repair shop. Now he may as well have been a random passerby who stopped to help, only a random stranger probably would have been a little warmer toward her.
Once again, all she saw was the back of his head. And something snapped.
“Tell me what you hate about me,” she uttered, the words spilling out before she could stop them.
He stopped dead in his tracks, but didn’t turn around. “What?”
“I’m serious. Whatever it is, Jim, I’m sorry. Okay?” the words were coming out angrier now.
He had turned around at this point, his expression confused, almost angry. This time it was her who couldn’t meet his eyes as she continued speaking in a shaky voice. No going back now.
“I know I hurt you, Jim. I get that. I understood why you left. But there is not a single day where I don’t regret it and I’m trying so hard to make it right. But you’re so...gah...you’re so...far away.”
“I sit right next to you,” he muttered, walking toward her.
“Damn it, Jim you know what I mean! You never really came back from Stamford and you know it!”
“What did you expect me to do, Pam?!” he spat. “I put my entire heart on my sleeve and was very clear about what I wanted.”
“And then. you. RAN.”
The pain flashed across his face.
“Jim, you ran away before I could even recover from the whiplash of that night. I know I broke your heart, and I hate that, but you never even stopped to consider what leaving did to me. You might be coming to terms with your broken heart, but what about mine?!” her voice broke.
His face fell. “Pam…”
“No, let me finish. Jim, I can’t keep track of whether you’re my best friend or just a work acquaintance or somewhere in between. One day you’re pulling pranks with me and the next you’re avoiding me like I haven’t showered in three days. I can’t keep it straight and it hurts.”
Now the tears were pooling in the corner of her eyes and she sighed, turning her face from him briefly. “I don’t know…” she whispered, sniffling. “We used to be good. And everyone who knew us could sense that we had something special, even if it was just friendship.” She looked him in the eyes. “I guess sometimes good things fall apart.”
The look of confusion and pain hadn’t left Jim’s face as he stared back at her.
“Do you think it’s easy for me, Pam?!” he pressed quietly. “To have to throw myself back into a place that holds so many conflicting emotions? To walk through that damn parking lot every day and sit next to the desk where we...where you told me…” he shook his head and dropped his glance. “I keep finding myself slipping into these old habits and I just...I don’t know, Pam.”
He ran his hands through his hair and then down over his face. His arms dropped like rag dolls at his side as he huffed out a sigh. “And then, as if that wasn’t hard enough, I see you get back together with Roy, who then tried to attack me. Put yourself in my situation, Pam. It’s like freaking Groundhog Day and I don’t know how to handle it.”
“I told you I was sorry,” she whispered.
He took a step toward her. “For what, exactly?”
She took a shuddered breath and threw her hands up, a tear falling down her cheek. “I don’t know...for everything. For ruining this.”
He stepped closer again. “You didn’t ruin anything,” he said softly.
She rolled her eyes. “Sure feels like it.”
They stood silent, barring the sound of gravel and dirt shifting beneath their feet.
“I miss you,” she finally whispered.
Jim let out a breath and looked to the looming dark clouds that had begun to form. “You have no idea, Beesly.”
“So,” she shrugged. “You...don’t hate me?”
Now he was inches away, looking down at her. “I could never hate you.” He brushed a stray curl from her face. “I’m just...exhausted. I’m tired of pretending I moved on, when really, I...”
She slowly reached up and grabbed his hand by her cheek. “You what?”
He closed his eyes and put his head against hers. “I really haven’t, Pam,” he breathed. “Not at all.”
She looked into his eyes, into that deep sea of green that began to frequent her paintings ever since he left. “Can we start over?” she pleaded, quietly.
Now his lips were so close to hers that she could feel his breath on them. “What did you have in mind?”
“Jim, I really am sorr—“
He urgently pressed his body against hers, pinning her flush against her car door, his lips finding refuge against hers. She sank into him, quickly bringing her fingers up to his hair, desperate to remember—to feel it under her skin again. As his tongue urged her lips open, a small moan came with it. She pressed into him, deepening the kiss, and tried to spill everything she had been holding back into it. His hands grasped her hips and he started painting a line of desperate kisses across her jawline and down her neck as she threw her head back against her car, breath heavy. “I’m in love with you, Jim,” she panted.
He tore his lips from the spot under her ear that was making her legs go weak and looked at her with dark, searching eyes.
“Say it again.”
She grasped the size of his face with her hands. “I’m so in love with you and I’m an idiot for waiting so long to tell you.”
He let out a breathy laugh and smiled so wide she swore she could see every one of his perfect teeth. “Really?”
She grinned back at him. “Really.”
“I love you too, Pam,” he shook his head in disbelief. “I never stopped.”
She threw her arms around his neck and laughed into his shoulder, taking in the scent of his aftershave that had once been so familiar.
He pulled back and kissed her gently. “Listen,” he said softly. “I need to go take care of something.”
He nodded grimly, looking down. “I haven’t exactly been fair to her either. So the least I can do is end it with her the right way before we can...” He placed his lips on hers firmly. “...do any more of that,” he sighed.
She smiled softly up at him. “I understand.”
“I’ll call you?” he said, squeezing her arm.
“You’d better,” she winked.
He tugged her toward him into a hug and put his lips against her cheek. “Bye, Beesly.”
Pam watched him walk back to his car, hands in pockets, his hair now slightly unkempt, thanks to her, and she smiled to herself. When she finally got back into her own car, laughter escaped from her chest when she realized couldn’t even touch the pedals. She pulled the lever under her chair to move it forward and rested her head against the steering wheel, smiling in disbelief, when her phone buzzed in her coat pocket.
I’m at a red light. Are we somehow not going to talk about how you almost brought your car to the mechanic for an activated parking brake?! Hahaha oh, I love you. :)
Those three words made her stomach somersault as she read them. What a difference a day could make. It was hard to believe that just that morning, she was sure her relationship with Jim was beyond repair—that they had finally found the single pressure point that would possibly decimate them.
But now, reading over that text message and still feeling the warmth of his hands on her, she was hopeful they could pick up the pieces. It may not be perfect, but they could patch them together and turn them into something new—something beautiful.
I love you too. :)
She hit send and put her car in drive. Good things may fall apart, but who’s to say they can’t be fixed?
I have been listening to this song on repeat and eventually it made it's way into Jim and Pam's story and onto the page. When the angst comes knocking, I have to answer.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the ability to belt this song in my car at the top of my lungs.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the ability to belt this song in my car at the top of my lungs.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Coming to terms with a broken heart, I guess that sometimes good things fall apart."
Chapter End Notes:
Thank you for reading! :)
WanderingWatchtower is the author of 23 other stories.
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