Pam’s first mistake was wearing the green sweater.
The one Jim loved.
The one he said matched the green in her eyes and brought out the gold in her hair.
The sweater that the last time she put it on didn’t stay on very long. When he told her how beautiful she looked in it and she kissed him in response, his reaction was primal, his sudden need for her unmistakable in the way his body reacted to that kiss. And in her reaction to his reaction, a domino effect took off taking with it all of their clothes.
So yeah, Pam knew he liked the way it looked on her and knew the risk she ran wearing it. But because they’d spent the night each at their own apartments, she felt safe in putting it on. He wouldn’t see her until they were out the door and on the way to the office where they had trained themselves to curb their affections.
Even if he did come in for a minute or so that morning, being she was running late and he, unlike Roy, wasn’t one to honk and wait in the running car, she would not let him into the bedroom where the trouble usually began.
Trouble, that beautiful, enrapturing, frivolous, moan-inducing, make her body explode with pleasure, trouble.
It wasn’t like it was the sweater per se. It wasn’t revealing or particularly clingy, sheer or otherwise what might be considered by your average man as provocative attire. But Jim wasn’t your average man, and when it came to Pam, she never knew what might drive him into a sexual tizzy. Just the other day, while at the sink rinsing a dish, she used her stockinged foot to rub at an itch just below the knee of her other leg, and before she knew it Jim was behind her massaging the spot with his hands, and once he removed the stockings, his mouth, taking care of the itch on her leg but creating a much more significant tingling to other parts of her body.
So it was with the green sweater, innocuous as it seemed, it had quite an effect on both of them when she put in on.
It was the way he looked at her when he saw her in it that one morning that made it dangerous. When Jim got that look, the one that made her feel cherished and desirable and sexy, she couldn’t help but melt in response when he touched her.
The night before was one of the few nights they’d spent apart. Pam was still working on her art class project and needed to spend some extra time alone to finish it. She’d spent so much time on his birthday canvas, she’d fallen behind on the newest assignment. Still, it was worth it, the canvas she’d painted as part of his birthday gift, when revealed brought a glossiness to his eyes and that same look to his face, the one that made her toes tingle, her stomach flutter and her center emulsify.
At least a week behind from were she needed to be on this project she knew it might take a while, and knew she couldn’t have the distraction of Jim around. Try as he did to let her paint in peace, even when he didn’t say a word, she felt his eyes on her back and his silent stares were almost as sidetracking as his questions about colors and brush strokes and inspiration.
Pam told Jim she’d need to be alone to work and would call him if she finished early but when she was still painting at midnight, they decided that they’d just see each other at work the next day.
When he showed up at her door that morning, with coffee because he knew she’d be tired and a kiss because he’d missed her last night, he noticed her in the sweater and told her again.
“God Pam, I love that sweater on you. The color, it’s like the color of your eyes and you look so pretty when you wear it.”
Blushing, Pam raised up on tip toes to kiss him, not only for the compliment but also for the coffee, careful to only brush his cheek and not his lips as that’s where things went off the rails the last time.
The second mistake Pam made in the break room.
The recharge he brought her that morning when he’d arrived at her apartment with much needed caffeine—she painted until well after 2am— was worthy of a caffeine-laden gift in response (never mind, that grape soda didn’t actually have caffeine) and so she bought an extra can from the soda machine.
Now that he was back on grape soda, after months of pretending he was over it, it was his preferred pick-me up beverage once again. The sugar it contained, but more so the association of the drink to who he truly was, provided the buzz that had been missing for both of them when he first had been back from Stamford.
She had planned to give him his canned refreshment at his desk where there would be no temptation to have any physical contact. Knowing Dwight’s eagle eyes were always on them kept their public interactions chaste and proper. Kevin had an unexplainable sixth sense that alerted him any time they got within a foot of each other, his head popping up like a Pavlovian dog, distracting him from work, perhaps causing the accounting errors that Angela was always going on about, but likely not as she’d been complaining long before Jim and Pam had started dating and Kevin started being suspicious.
Angela too, seemed to be particularly observant of what she once identified as Pam Pong, and in the last week her normal snarls and daggered looks seemed to have intensified, particularly whenever she noticed Pam and Jim together.
All of this served as yet another deterrent from trying to sneak any illicit touches. While in the office they tried to keep their contact minimal so nothing could be interpreted as anything other than the interactions of good friends.
But Pam was beginning to get frustrated at having to keep up the charade, and frustration gave way to carelessness and risks. They’d already been discovered by the doc crew and that meant the gig was almost up.
It was carelessness that had her thinking about the look he gave her that morning when he saw her in her sweater. The smirk he gave her now only made it worse. The way his eyes twinkled, a kaleidoscope of mischief, adoration and seduction that hid a secret wink behind them that Pam knew was all for her.
It was risky for her to recall the kiss from the morning, the little peck, that she still felt on her lips as she smiled back at him.
And it was pure reckless abandon that made her decide to do it again. Reach up and kiss him, right there in the breakroom where anyone could walk in and see them. Luckily, she thought, nobody did.
Except someone had.
And soon, the entire office knew.
It wasn’t so bad, at first. Michael was ecstatic, carrying on about how his heart soared with the eagle’s nest or some clichéd jargon to express his happiness for them. And that was really nice.
What wasn’t was Phyllis’ comment in the breakroom, Kevin’s questions about their sex life, and Creed’s predictions on how long they would last.
And then days later when Ryan found out in the most awkward way possible, Pam thought that would be the worst of it.
And it pretty much was. Ryan insisted the dating form be filed with Toby after all and by then everyone had made their comments, both the public ones and privately in interviews with the doc crew.
By the time Thursday arrived, it was pretty much business as usual. The office seemed more excited about the leftovers from the gift baskets Michael had put together and had pretty much forgotten about Pam and Jim’s recently revealed relationship.
And that, for some strange reason Pam also found disappointing. She knew that the fact she and Jim were finally dating wasn’t life-changing for anyone else but she thought that their officemates would be happy for them for more than a minute.
She knew she was crazy to feel what she was feeling. It was better that the attention was no longer on them. She knew firsthand how much office relationships, once out in the open, could have an effect on more than just the two people in them. She also knew how much they could be influenced by those others sharing the workspace. It was one of the biggest reasons they had decided to keep things quiet at first, so they could focus on navigating their new relationship instead of steering away from the inevitable issues that would arise once the rest of the office knew.
Dwight definitely seemed to be one who was affected by their new relationship. He’d been weirdly hostile once he found out, well more hostile than normal. And moody. Pam had a good idea it wasn’t personal, at least not personal towards her. Jim that was another story, but Pam imagined Dwight would be genuinely happy for her. After all they’d had a real bonding moment when she’d been his secret assistant to the regional manager for the millisecond she held the position.
Pam was pretty sure this was still residual effects of the Sprinkles debacle. Things still seemed very tenuous between him and Angela and this seemed to be causing him to lash out more than usual. Until his relationship was back to normal, as normal as a relationship between those two could be, it was probably best not to rub their happiness in his face.
And Kelly, she nearly bit off Pam’s head for saying hello the morning after they’d been outed. Things had obviously not gone well with her reunion with Ryan. She could only hope Kelly wouldn’t find out how he, days later had asked Pam out to dinner under the pretense of interest in her design skills for the new company logo.
So rational Pam, knew it was best their 5 minutes of fame, at least when it came to their new office romance was over, but sentimentalist Pam was sorry to see it pass so quick and she lamented to Jim about it over their breakroom lunch.
“I think I know how to cheer you up. I know someone who’s always genuinely thrilled to have a happy couple in their midst.”
Pam knew exactly who Jim was referring to. Someone who could earn some points too if they showed up at her restaurant, especially if they called it second birthday, being it was still Jim’s birthday month.
It was too late to get a reservation for Friday but Jim was able to secure a seating in Beth’s section for Saturday night and that had Pam feeling better already.
It was a busy night. They’d never been there on a weekend before and now they knew they were best to keep up with their tradition of movies and Chinese on Saturday night and save Christopher’s for weeknights. There was a romantic buzz and a happy energy floating in the air, with more candles glistening and a bomb of flowers on each table, bouquets twice the size of what they usually were on the prior nights they’d dined there. But there was also a wait. Despite their reservation, they were still delayed from sitting right away and so Jim squeezed himself up into the only hole in the crowd at the bar to grab them drinks as they waited for their table to be free. Jim ordered his usual gin and tonic for himself and a Berry Smash for Pam. When Pam spotted two free seats open up, she signaled for Jim to jump at them since at his stature he was better at navigating the crowd, but just at that moment the hostess found Jim and let him know the table was ready. There was one good thing about it being so busy, the hostess was too frazzled and rushed to make her normal googly eyes at Pam’s boyfriend.
Once seated at the table, Jim proposed a toast.
“My heart soars...” he began.
Beth showed up mid clink.
In between tearful giggles Pam joined in as Beth made her appearance, "...with the eagle’s nest.”
“Uh, oh do I need to get a Coke ready,” Beth said as she heard the words come out in stereo.
Even wider smiles spread across three faces.
“We’ll spare you the trouble. There’ll be no jinxing tonight.” Jim said shooting a warning look to Pam, who seemed to have the word forming on her lips
Pam looked coyly at Jim but swallowed it along with a sip of her drink.
“So, what are we toasting loves?”
Jim finished the sip of his gin and tonic and set the glass back down ready to share the week’s tales with Beth but Pam was quicker to speak.
“We came out at our office this week.”
“Rather, we were outed,” Jim interjected. “And to some very mixed reactions.”
Just as Jim had predicted, despite how busy it was that night, Beth beamed at them as he told the story of the prohibited PDA that got them caught. Giving the couple her full attention, Beth listened with light in her eyes as he described Michael’s exuberance at learning they were a couple and the varied reactions of the rest of the office. Her eyes widened in amused interest when he went on to detail how later that week their boss’s boss had asked Pam out to dinner himself.
Pam blushed as Jim got to the part about Ryan and interrupted herself both to change the subject and also because she knew Beth would soon need to get back to her other tables, it was that busy.
“But it’s also Jim’s birthday…well the actual date was a few weeks back but we’ve not had a chance to get here to celebrate it.” Pam was a little reluctant to tell Beth she’d taken him somewhere else to fete him on the actual day.
“So we’ll be needing some candles on our dessert tonight, that amazing cake we saw the older couple sharing last time.”
Beth’s smile grew even larger as she turned to Jim to wish him well.
“Well happy birthday, Jim. I hope it was a great day and the year brings you lots more to celebrate…”
She flashed him another signature Beth ear-to-ear smile as she bestowed her best.
“and I hope you will celebrate it all here,” she added with a wink.
“Well thank you, Beth,” he responded to her but the glimmer in his eye was all for Pam. “I got a really special present this year. It was a long time coming but it was well worth the wait.”
The crowds had thinned significantly by the time Beth arrived at the table with the candle lit cake at the end of their meal. Grateful it wasn’t the kind of place that had the entire waitstaff come sing to him, Jim quietly blew out his candle once Pam and Beth finished a slightly more subdued chorus than the one he’d been serenaded with at his first birthday dinner at Anna Maria’s.
“Thank you, thank you and you’re welcome.” He nodded to Pam and then Beth before dipping his fork into the rich chocolate layers that were in front of him.
The faint lines at the bridge of Beth’s nose deepened as her brows furrowed in confusion.
“You know for the extra 15 birthday points.”
The lines on Beth’s face softened as Jim elaborated.
“Oh, the game. Yeah, except we only tally points Monday through Thursday. It’s far too busy to play on the weekends.”
Jim nodded with understanding; his mouth too full with rich crumb and decadent chocolate cream to speak.
"So, it seems,” Pam continued for him. “If we’d known, we would have come during the week.”
Pam was suddenly feeling guilty that they went somewhere else on Jim’s actual birthday, which had been on a Monday, a few weeks back.
“Don’t you worry about it, sweetie. Besides, nothing would have redeemed my score after the Monday I had this week.”
Beth took a quick peek around to be sure none of her other patrons were in need of a drink refill or a clean fork before she continued. Seeing all the diners in her section busy enjoying their meals, she directed her focus back to Jim and Pam and told them about the couples that had been there earlier in the week.
“Early on Monday evening, my first couple came in. They reminded me a little of you two, but only in that she was small and petite and he was quite tall. But once they sat down, I got a very different vibe.”
Jim was on his third bite of the cake by now and motioning to Pam to try it. Pam, speaking only through her eyes chastised him for eating while Beth was speaking.
Beth was fast becoming almost as good as Jim at reading her body language and insisted she go ahead.
“Oh go ahead...that cake it hard to resist, eat away.”
Pam smiled up at Beth as she herself dug her fork into the chocolate dessert.
“The woman, she seemed perturbed from the start, even more so when I came back to take their orders and she snapped at me because there weren’t more vegetarian options on the menu. I told her I could have the chef make her some vegetarian noodles with a side of vegetables. This seemed to make her a little happier but only for a minute. Her face scrunched in anger again when her date requested a side of beets with his well-done meat.”
Pam and Jim both set down their forks at the same moment and flashed a look to each other – obviously thinking the same thing. Beth, however, didn’t seem to notice and went on with her story.
“Like I said, once I began interacting with them, the resemblance to you two had vanished. Their exchanges seemed awkward and strained and their body language was somber and stiff. Sure enough not 5 minutes after I served them their specially-prepared meals, I heard the woman tell her date she could no longer be with him and she got up and left. The poor guy, he looked crushed. Not only did I lose points for the breakup but Pete insisted the guttural sobs coming from him as he settled the bill were worth twice the deficit, they were so disturbing. But get this, he still had me wrap up all the food they never got to eat and sat there ugly crying as he waited for me to return with his to-go meals.”
Jim was trying hard to stifle a laugh as Beth went on, while Pam kicked him under the table.
“That’s terrible, Beth. I’m sorry he cost you so many points.” She turned back to Jim who still had a laugh threatening to slip out. Accentuating her words, so Jim would understand but without revealing to Beth they were very familiar with the couple, well former couple it seemed, she continued, “but that poor guy.”
“Yeah, I felt bad for him too,” Beth went on. “It was hard not to, even with the points I lost. But believe it or not that wasn’t it for my night.”
Jim still trying to hold in his reaction forced down another bite of cake to keep himself from wisecracking. Pam knew she’d get an earful of them on the way home. She also knew they would eventually want to share with Beth how they knew the couple that had cost her the many points but once they heard the rest of the story, they decided best not to reveal that tonight.
“So not twenty minutes after the man finally leaves but I get my second disastrous couple of the night seated at the same unlucky table. I think I heard her before I saw her which was pretty remarkable in itself because she was dressed in this very clingy, hot pink, polka dot number. She also was a fan of the Mixed Berry Smash,” Beth nodded at the nearly-finished drink in front of Pam.
“She ordered three of them before their night was also cut short – but the last one she threw in her date’s face.”