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Author's Chapter Notes:

As it turns out, maybe I'm more of a Kevin than an Oscar because when I said there would be 2 parts to this, I was not right. There are 3. Call it a bonus chapter if you will...  

December 23rd 


The ‘closed for the holidays’ sign chuckled at her as she rattled it on her way into work. It seemed returning the dress was not on the cards for today. 

Could she be one of those people? Could she tuck the tag in and wear it to the event and then return it? The thought struck her and she squashed it back down. No. It was ridiculous. She couldn’t. Could she? 


It was barely 10am when Michael loomed over her desk, a beaming wide smile stretched across his face. “It’s time,” he waved his watch enthusiastically under her nose. 

She pinched her brow in question. 

“We have to leave for New York in T minus 6 hours.” 

He shook his head at her still vacant expression. “We need to go home and get ready!” 

A sarcastic comment formed and she remembered the box nestled into her passenger seat. She bit her tongue to keep it from rolling out her mouth. 

“Okay, Michael,” she answered softly. “I’ll see you at 4.” 

“Yeppers. Your chariot will await.” 


He wasn’t kidding she thought as she eyed the luxury town car idling in her driveway. 

Right on time too, which was somewhat of a surprise. Michael tended to go very over the top with formal events which always seemed to impact on his time management. 

She smoothed her coat over her dress and stepped out onto her stoop. She turned to lock her door and in the time her back was turned, a driver materialized, holding the car door open for her. 

She offered her thanks and settled into an eerily quiet backseat. No Michael. She reveled in the peace for a moment. They were only about five minutes away from his townhouse. She figured once they collected him, she would be wrapped up in excited chatter for the remainder of the journey. 


She ran her fingers over the soft green fabric of her - the - dress. She had tried, really earnestly tried to wear something she already owned. 

As it turned out, the extra several hours to get ready that she usually wouldn’t need had come in handy. She had spent the bulk of them in deep contemplation of every dress she owned. There was the mousy brown bridesmaids dress that would have been appropriate enough, but looked like Pam felt - lacking in Christmas spirit. The longer she had looked at it, the more she had scrunched her nose in distaste. It was everything she was: plain and bland. And she was trying not to be that person anymore, the wallflower that hid behind Roy at any social function. She couldn’t bring herself to settle for it. 

Discounting the brown number left her with only one other dress that was actually formal enough. But, as she dug it from the darkest pocket of her closest where she had jammed it deliberately, even the brush of it against her fingertips left her feeling nauseated. She had recoiled instantly to stop herself from gagging and that was that. 

It was fancy enough that dry clean only was etched on its label. She had been going to do just that, and then her life had shifted on its axis in such a monumental way that getting it cleaned was a long lost thought. 

Maybe it wasn’t the feel of the fabric that had her eyes instantly stinging with the hot burn of tears, but the waft of something familiar and irretrievable that her fingers rustling the fabric caused to drift her way. 

In the end, with only fifteen minutes left on the clock before Michael was due to arrive, she tucked the tag beneath the perfect dress and slipped it on. Thoughts of how she would have to take out a loan to even begin to pay Michael back for it dancing in her head. 


There was a light flurry of snow drifting by the window. It wasn’t until she felt the car considerably sped up that she realized they were merging onto the highway - and not heading towards Michael’s condo. 

“Excuse me?” 

“Ma’am,” the driver met her gaze in the rear view mirror. 

“Aren’t we… don’t we… Michael? We still need to pick up Michael?” she stammered out. 

“Mr Scott has been diverted. He can no longer attend.” 

“Oh,” and it wasn’t relief that flooded through her veins, rather disappointment. Attending with Michael was actually more appealing that attending this thing alone. 

The driver cleared his throat. “He has, however, arranged for an alternate chaperone to meet you in the city.” 

Great. Just great. That undoubtedly meant that Dwight would be waiting for her in the city. If she could count on one thing it was that Dwight would stand in to support Michael in literally anything without adequate notice. 

She squared her shoulders. It was fine. Dwight would be a familiar face and she could easily fill her evening with keeping him from doing anything too embarrassing. If there was any component of her job she had complete proficiency in, it was keeping Michael and Dwight in line. 

It would all be okay. 


No alternate escort awaited her at the entrance of the building. Chivalry was not Dwight’s middle name, so it wasn’t a surprise to find both the steps and the foyer devoid of his presence. 

She wondered how much of a fool he could have already made of himself in the short time he would have been inside and unsupervised. She would just have to find out. 

She squared her shoulders and stepped from the wide corridor into the room. It was beautiful. Christmas decorations adorned the walls, but in a tastefully understated manner. The ceilings were high and she liked the style of architecture, although she had no idea what it was called. A couple followed her in and their chatter brought her eyes back to the present. She swung her gaze around the room, seeking the familiar mustard yellow of Dwight. She took another step before her eyes locked on a figure a little further across the room and she froze. 

It couldn’t be. 

It just couldn’t. 

She couldn’t. 


She spun, desperate for the exit. 

Her movement was sharp, and she staggered on her feet. 

As she was about to have that cliche moment and stumble into the punch and make a scene, she righted herself. 

She was facing the hallway again. Perfect. She lunged forward, but instead of an out, she almost stumbled into the couple behind her. 

Oh. Oh

“Pam Beesly,” David Wallace enthused loudly. 

There’s no way he could have missed that. She pictured the way he would flinch, his shoulders stiffening with his hatred for her. He would think she was rude, intruding on this thing she clearly had no place at. 

Why was he here though? It didn’t make sense. 

“Hi Mr Wallace,” she replied, impressed at how steady her voice was despite herself and her rapidly spiraling thoughts. 

“We were very impressed with your design.” 

“You were?” She fought to keep the astonishment from her tone. “You didn’t think it was… juvenile?” 

His tone was slightly puzzled as he replied. “No. It was great. I particularly liked the snowflakes.”

“Thank you,” she managed to murmur. Snowflakes? That wasn’t her design. 

There was a mistake. Someone else’s design had won and she’d accidentally claimed the glory. 

But then her mind floated back to her original drawing, the semi-decent one that she’d tossed into the trash… It had an intricate snowflake detail around the edges. How had it ended up at corporate? 

“You know, I’m thinking that maybe we should come up with a few more designs and sell them to our customers next year.” 

“That’s a great idea,” another voice interjected and Pam’s knees trembled beneath her. 

“Pam, I’ll be in contact in the new year to talk with you about producing some other designs. If you’d like?” 

“I’d like that very much,” she exhaled. 

“Enjoy the party,” Wallace grinned and drifted away into the crowd. 


“Did you hear that?” she gasped, forgetting herself for a moment, excitement taking over. 

“I did. It’s amazing, Pam!” There was sincerity ringing in his tone. 

“Jim,” passed over her lips, almost a sigh. She spun to face him. “It’s really you,” and against her better judgement muscle memory took over and she flung herself into his chest and wound her arms tightly around him. 

“Hi,” he murmured, his warm breath rippling through her hair. She was hopeless to control the shiver that coursed through her. 

“Hey,” she replied, her bottom lip slipping between her teeth, a nervous habit that she was powerless to break. 

“You’re here…” she couldn’t keep any of her thoughts in. 

“I am,” his brow furrowed. “I got your -” 

and the rest his sentence disappeared with the tug to his arm. 

“Jim,” she was all elegance and class and the easy familiarity with which she grabbed at Jim had a heavy lump forming deep in Pam’s chest. 

Pam smoothed the edges of her dress self-consciously. She felt as if she’d worn the plain brown one after all in comparison to the woman who had floated to Jim’s side. 

“You have to come meet Alan. I told him all about you,” she demanded, tugging on Jim’s arm pointedly. 


“Alan Brand. The CEO. God Jim. Keep up,” she huffed and maybe she was aiming for playful, but it came across a little mean spirited to Pam. She wrapped her arms around her waist in an effort to hold herself together. 

“Oh,” Jim answered and his eyes locked with Pam’s, she dropped her gaze to her feet. 

“I’ll be back. I want to… I want to talk to you.” And with that he finally allowed the model-esque brunette to drag him away. 


At least it was over. Their first strained interaction in the now. This new normal where they were acquaintances and not best friends. 

She hated it. Hated that the easiness was gone and it was all awkwardness and angst now. 

The Jim shaped wound he’d plunged into her back as he left tugged at the edges in his presence. It was in real danger of opening up again. She’d done a pretty good job of healing it without him around, or at least she’d bandaged it so thoroughly that it hid the cut beneath. 

She was fine.

She didn’t feel fine now though. 

Who was that girl? She was stunning and still had her arm loped through Jim’s. They weren’t strangers, that much was clear. 

She felt so stupid for forgetting how mad she was at him for leaving. She had hugged him. He wasn’t even hers to hug. He never had been. And he never would be. 

The realization hung over her, heavy and draining. Her shoulders slumped and she was tired in that world weary way. The funny thing about rock bottom was that it went a lot deeper than she thought. She kept thinking she had her feet firmly on it, and then she’d take another step only to stumble and fall further still. 


She should leave. She couldn’t be here. She didn’t belong in the same place with Jim when they were so far away from being on the same page. 

They were in separate books now. He’d made sure of that by moving across state lines to prove his point. They were done. And they’d never really had a chance to begin. 

At first she’d wondered if he had heard that she’d called off the wedding. But then Michael had sent out a staff wide email announcing it and she knew that Jim was still on the list. 

Her heart had been in her throat for days afterwards when the phone would ring or the door would open. It was never him though. 

Even now, thinking about it, she was kind of annoyed. Why hadn’t he reached out? He must have known that it wasn’t a coincidence - that with the press of his lips to hers he had unraveled the careful stitching she had done to bind her life to Roy’s. Jim had found the loose thread and tugged at it, instead of cutting it precisely like you were supposed to do, and the entire thing had fallen apart. 


So yeah, she was leaving. This sucked. Jim sucked. Most of all she sucked for being stupid enough to ever agree to come to this at all. 

Oh. She didn’t know how she was getting home. Did the car wait outside all evening? Had the driver said a time? 

This was not ideal. 

A waiter swept by her with a tray of champagne and suddenly a drink seemed like a very good idea. She plucked a glass as the tray was offered to her and drank deeply. 

Okay. New plan. Call Michael and get the number for the car company. It was just sensible enough to actually work. 

She sipped slower this time, and let herself take in the room. She tried to find the elements she was sure that Michael would ask her about. She barely recognized anyone. She couldn’t even see Jan in the crowd of mingling partygoers. She let herself pay some attention to the horderves passing around. Michael would be dying to know what sort of food was on offer at a big corporate party. 

Where was he anyway? And what was with the men in her life bailing on her? 

She blanched immediately at the thought. Lumping Jim and Michael into the same category was so very wrong. It wasn’t the same. It was odd for Michael though. Extremely so. 


Her curiosity about Michael was soon overpowered by her anger. Anger at Jim for leaving. Anger at herself for not going after him. 

What had he said earlier? I got your something… She hadn’t sent him anything. So, what exactly was he talking about? 

You know what. She didn’t care. It wasn’t worth talking to him again and enduring the angst to figure it out. Nope. No thank you.

She was going to call the car company and get out of here. 


She ducked into the hallway to pull her phone from her purse. 

Michael’s number rang and rang, and then it just continued ringing. No answer came. That was a slight flaw to her plan. 

Next step was to check the street for the car she supposed. Had there even been street parking on this street? She wasn’t sure how it worked in the city, but ample parking did not seem to be part of its reputation. 

She would figure it out. She had to figure it out, because what other alternative was there really. 

Her stomach rumbled and she considered the harm in darting back inside and actually sampling the food circulating the room. Jim and the candidate for his girlfriend had been deep in conversation with the CEO when she ducked out. Surely that would still be the case.

She’d been too caught up in dress selections that an appropriate hour to eat lunch had sort of come and gone unnoticed. Food would clear away some of this anger and she’d have her head on straighter to figure out how she would get home… 


She stepped back to the entrance, eyes searching for the platters of fancy snacks. She wondered if she could sweet talk a waiter into just leaving an entire tray in her very capable hands. 

Her gaze froze on the edge of the room. The bottom she thought she was standing solidly on shattered beneath her feet and she plunged deeper still. This was really it. Rock bottom couldn’t possibly reach further than this. 

Everything she feared, but had no right to, was instantly confirmed. Jim’s girlfriend was molded to him, her lips pressing intently against his. 

Pam gasped and clasped her hands over her mouth, wishing that she could swallow the sound and stop it from floating across the room. 

The moment it hit Jim, his eyes snapped open and flashed to her. 

She didn’t keep looking long enough to read the panic written there. 

Her appetite up and left the building and so did she. 

“Pam! Wait!” bounced up the corridor in her wake. 


The New York winter air was bitter. She felt if she didn’t wipe her tears away with the sleeves of her coat that they would freeze in place on her face. 

She only got as far as the steps to the building, swinging her gaze up and down the empty street and willing the town car to appear. 

The door swung open behind her and the rush of warm air only left her shivering more. 

“Pam. It wasn’t what it looked like.” 

God. Could he just leave her alone in her humiliation. 

“You don’t have to explain yourself to me,” she managed to mumble. Her anger for him was far outweighed by her anger for herself. It all came spitting out at him though. “Just go, Jim. You’re good at that.” 

She swore she could feel the rush of air from his jaw dropping open. 

“So, what? You expected me to stick around and watch you marry him?” Gone was the jovial tone he’d been plastering on all night. Good. She could tell it wasn’t real anyway. 

“I didn’t marry him. Which you knew, and did nothing about.” 

“Did nothing about…” There was another gust of wind from the shaking of his head. She certainly wasn’t about to lift her gaze to his to confirm. “Are you kidding me, Pam?” 

She shrugged. 

“I bared my soul to you. I put all my damn cards on the table at that ridiculous poker night.” 

“And then you left.” She wasn’t proud of the way her voice cracked. Her rage was quickly draining to the same deep sorrow that haunted her every day in the office. Ugh. It would turn to weeping soon if she didn’t get a handle on it. 

“You didn’t call and tell me about the wedding. I found out secondhand. What was I supposed to do with that?” It wasn’t a question. It was an accusation. 

“What does it matter anyway?” she sniffled. “You have a girlfriend so clearly I did you a favor.” 

“Karen’s not…” 

“Spare me, Jim. I know what I saw. Or do you kiss all your friends at formal work events?” 

It was a low blow and she knew it the moment it left her mouth. Her brain caught up and she winced.

It wasn’t... She wasn’t trying to cheapen their moment. She knew it was more to him than that. It was more to her anyway. 

What did she know of him anymore… 


Jim had gone silent beside her. She felt him shuffle and then there was the gust of warm air of the door opening and closing. 

She was alone on the stoop. 

The tears flowed in earnest now. She had a spectacular way of always screwing it up when it came to Jim. 

New York was a busy city. If she picked a direction and started walking surely she would stumble across a subway station or a cab rank or a hotel… something. 

She’d made it all of thirty feet when a low rumble alerted her to a car idling up the street. She crossed her fingers for the town car and chanced a glance behind her. 

Of course it was some unfamiliar thing. She tucked her chin against her chest and pressed forward through the biting wind. 

The car continued creeping along behind her which she was not a fan of. She quickened her step and wondered if mace ever expired before remembering it was in her other purse anyway. 

Maybe she should stop and accept her fate. Getting plucked from the street and ultimately murdered was a fitting end to this disastrous night. 


There was a buzz as the window of the car wound down. “Pam. Why are you wandering the street?” 

“I’m fine,” she lied through chattering teeth, fooling absolutely no one. 

“It’s… Look. It’s not safe. Get in the car.” 

She took a few more futile steps. Jim sighed and rolled the car forward.

“I’m not going to leave you out here. If you won’t get in, I’ll drive next to you like this until you get to wherever it is you’re going.” 

He was infuriating. Couldn’t he just leave her be to struggle on the mean streets? 

“I don’t know,” she confessed. “Where I’m going.” 

“Please,” the fight was gone from his tone. “Get in. We can figure out the rest.” 

And maybe it was the sincerity ringing in his tone, or maybe it was knowing that she wouldn’t leave him on an icy sidewalk either, but she relented and settled into the passenger seat beside him. 

“Are you staying in the city?” 

She shrugged defeatedly. 

He gave her a look which spoke volumes, the lines across his face very clearly spelling out are you kidding me and would you work with me here

“No, really I don’t know. Michael planned this whole thing and then bailed at the last moment.” 

His expression softened. “How did you get to the city?” 

“A town car that he arranged.” 

“Huh. I find it hard to believe that Michael bailed.” He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. “I’ll drive you home.” 

“What? Jim, no. You don’t have to.”

“I want to. I… I miss you, Pam.” 

He was resolved, that much was clear. “Thank you,” she murmured and then settled back into the awkward silence. 


As the bright lights of the city started to thin she gasped, her head jerking wildly to the backseat and finding it empty. “What about your girlfriend?” 

“She’s not… but, you don’t believe me,” mirthless humor flickered through his tone. 

“I saw you kissing,” Pam frowned. “I don’t get why you’re trying so hard to deny it.” 

“There was mistletoe,” Jim cursed. “She kissed me… and ruined everything,” he muttered under his breath. 

“What did she ruin?” 

“You… I thought the email that you sent meant that there was a… chance.” 

The email? A chance? It was too much to process. Her mouth flapped open and, “email?” squeaked out. 

“With the ticket, asking me to be your date at the party.” He took in her dumbfounded expression. “You didn’t send it. Great. Just great. And I continue to be the world’s biggest idiot.” 

“You came,” her voice was small, a direct contrast to the emotion swelling through her. “You thought I invited you and you… came.” 

“It’s you, Pam,” he shrugged. “It’s always going to be you for me.” 

She let his words and the soft tone of his voice roll over her and then there was a ladder in her pit of despair and when she glanced skyward there was light on the horizon where before there had only been swirling, thunderous clouds. 

“It‘s,” she cleared her throat, the ache of anger no longer crushing her windpipe. “It’s you for me too. That’s why I called off my wedding.” 

She let herself look at him, her confession making her feel bolder and braver than she usually did. 

She watched the way his eyes glassed over and sparkled with hope and the way his cheeks strained under the weight of his wide smile. 

Before she could talk herself out of it, she drifted across the center console and pressed her lips to the corner of his dimpled grin. 

The heat from his resulting blush warmed the last remnants of icy New York street that had been lingering. 

“I really like your dress,” he flickered his gaze over to her. “I wanted to tell you earlier. You look really pretty, Pam.” 

She groaned. Her head falling into her hands. “How am I going to repay Michael. First this,” she nodded at her dress, “and now this,” she gestured frantically at Jim. 


“Michael. He bought this dress and he obviously sent you that email.” 


“Yeah. I’m going to have to be so nice. No more laughing when he does something so… Michael. I owe him so much.” 

“I agree with finding a way to repay him. But, you can’t quit laughing at him. That’s just not realistic. What if he wears his lucky jeans to work again?” 

“The uh, dry cleaner lost those.” She offered him a small, rueful smile. 

“My point stands. There’s always something with Michael.” 

“True,” she giggled. The sound of laughter spilling from her lips reminded her of where she was and who she was with. She realized with a start that the sound was foreign to her ears. She hadn’t heard herself laugh in an unforced natural manner in months. 

“I really missed you.” 

Jim dropped his perfect ten-two position and gripped the wheel with one hand, his other drifted over the space between them. He tangled his fingers with hers and tethered her back to happiness. “There hasn’t been a moment since I left that I haven’t been missing you.” 


The drive passed ridiculously quickly. She felt like she was blinking and then the outer reaches of Scranton were rolling by the window. 

She directed Jim to her apartment, doing her very best to ignore the nervous anticipation that was beginning to circulate through the cabin. 

“This is nice,” he commented as the car crunched to a stop on her curb. “What’s that on your porch? A sculpture?” 

Her brow furrowed and she followed the line of his gaze. What the hell? “No,” she shook her head. “I don’t know what that is…” 

She hurried to undo her belt. “Maybe just…” Jim slowed her with a tug to her hand. 

She squinted at the hunk of black, there was something similar about the triangular flaps hanging off the edge. “Oh,” she gasped, recognition flaring. “C’mon Jim.” 

In three long strides she was at her door. “Michael,” she murmured, shaking his shoulder gently, his long tuxedo tails dancing in the wind. He was curled up on her stoop, the dark mass his thick winter coat, covering his formal attire. “What are you doing here?” 

He startled awake. “Pam! You’re okay!” 

“Of course I’m okay. Come inside, you’re freezing.” 

“Yeah,” he grinned. And then his eyes widened comically and he gasped. “It’s…” he pointed. “Pam, it’s… It’s Jim!” 

They exchanged an amused look over Michael’s head. 

“I did this,” he breathed. “I made this happen.” 

“You sure did, Michael,” she unlocked her door and ushered their unlikely trio inside. “What are you doing here?” 

He shuffled his coat off as he stepped through her doorway. It was only then that she noticed how disheveled he was. The ends of his pants were laden with mud and his bow tie was askew. His hair stuck out in every possible direction. 

His eyes were wide as he uttered the last possible words she thought he would utter. 

“I was kidnapped.” 


Chapter End Notes:
Thank you so much for your incredibly kind response to the first chapter! It means the world, especially after having to drag the words from somewhere deep in my soul. 

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