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Author's Chapter Notes:

Originally posted on 18 June 2021


Jim tells her how sorry he is, how he never meant to put her through this, how he’ll do whatever it takes to make this up to her.  Pam has so much she wants to say: how she’s not blameless here, how she made so many mistakes, especially with keeping secrets from him, but simply says that she messed up, too.  He forgives her, and says things that almost suggest he deserves the mistakes she made.  She just holds him tighter.

He slowly let go of her, asking her how much more work she needs to get done.  There’s still an hour left, but she needs to order some more supplies.  He pays the cab driver their time, apologizing for making them wait; they’re surprisingly forgiving, given the weight of the situation, and they drive off.  He decides to stay outside and make a few phone calls, Pam’s just shaken that Jim has done a complete 180 and is doing everything he can to avoid going to Philly.  She tells him that he needs to go.

“No.  Not anymore.”

They’re in the Outback when he tells her he’s taking a break from Athlead.  A long one.  She wants to make sure that this decision is his and his alone, that he’s not placating her, that she understands.  His response?  “I’m doing this for us.”

Then he lists off all the calls he made.

First off, Helene.  He was transparent without giving too much information, saying that “I want to make things right”; Helene, more than happy to oblige, told him that she loves him and that everything will work out.  He returned the sentiment and offers to pay her from his personal account for all she’s done for Pam; she lovingly and vehemently refused.

Secondly, David.  He tells him that he is taking a break from his “side job” (a phrase he emphasized while talking to him), and David was relieved that “one of the best salesman of the company” has decided this, implying that David’s frustration wasn’t the side gig in it of itself, but not wanting to lose the man he has the strongest professional friendship with.

Last but not least, Colin.  The call was the shortest, basically telling him that there’s a “family emergency” and he needs to be home for Pam.  Out of all of Athlead, Colin best understands, so he’s granted the time off.

“You didn’t have to lie to Colin,” Pam comforts.

Jim, nearing tears, simply says “I didn’t lie.”

He mumbles his fourth apology into her shoulder after breaking down in their bedroom.

She just holds him and shushes him and whispers sweet nothings, taking in everything that’s happened.  She feels a sense of relief, one that’s almost overwhelming.  They both shielded themselves from each other to protect the other, ironically blocking themselves from emotions and burdens and conversations they should have had in the first place.

She’s grateful for the man who’s treating himself like garbage right now, who’s saying how he doesn’t deserve her, how he became Roy, the abusive a-hole who would have never gone through the lengths that Jim has to grant them a better life.  A life that, for some ungodly reason, she doesn’t even want.

She tells him, crying at this point, how she’s lied and kept the truth and how she believes in him, knows Athlead will be a huge success, and although it can’t be right now, it will happen one day.  He refuses to hold her to that.

She’s thankful he’s not.

Besides, he used to aspire for Athlead.  Now it practically scares him.

Pam goes first.  She reveals everything she hid from him:
— The day he met Doctor J, she brought lice into the office.
— She was about to tell him that she got the opportunity to get to paint a mural for the Irish Cultural Center; that’s why she failed to film the recital.
— She barely asked anything from her mom, who was more than willing to help, but because she wanted to not have Jim worry, she bore the brunt of practically everything.
— Her interactions with Brian almost made her uncomfortable, and she refuses to speak to him again.
— She would cry herself to sleep some nights, particularly one night when Cece woke up in the middle of the night, wondering if Daddy was home.
— She held her tongue all this time, hidden all the anger, resentment, the sadness, because she loves him and supports him and his dreams, even if they aren’t her own.

He resists the urge to cry again, and yet some tears slip out.  He tells her he’ll never, ever, in no uncertain terms, do ANY of this to her again.  That any excuse he has to offer would bear no weight whatsoever.  Because now he has to let her in on how much worse he’s become than her.

How lucky he was when he didn’t have the crap beat out of him for buying a house without consulting her first.  That her throwaway comment about nothing interesting happening was no excuse.  How afraid he would be to hear “no” a second time, not willing to accept that’s what he needs to hear, that his needs aren’t the only ones that matter anymore.  That meeting Doctor J and having the time of his life while she had to deal with lice hits him in the gut.

His dreams, his ambition, they transformed him into a different person.  One that would practically make her go to Philly, that would have when the opportunity came.  That there would be “more than counseling” if she refused.  That he didn’t take into account the mural for the warehouse, or the mural for the Irish Cultural Center, or David, or his coworkers, or her and Cece and Phillip.

He was too ashamed of himself to bring this up to their therapist.

She’s floored, and despite everything, she understands why.  Why he changed so drastically, became a different person, one she didn’t recognize.  And this revelation happens right about here:

“And when you told the crew that nothing interesting was gonna happen for a long, long time, I…”

She incorporates this into everything else he says following that, and everything before, finally getting it.  His talents are being squandered because of her.  She’s tying him down to Dunder Mifflin.  She pushed him to Philly.

Just like she pushed him to Stamford.

She can’t help but cry again, saying that if she knew he felt that way, she would have understood.  That she never, ever wanted to hold him back.  She fears she’s becoming Roy, the guy who nearly killed him.  She’s thankful that he was with her during Pratt, during Michael Scott Paper Company, all the times he motivated her to pursue what she wanted.  And here she is, holding him back from what he wants.  She would rather want Scranton, but will make do with Philly because he deserves it, because again, she believes in him, like he believes in her.

He just… holds her.  Gently tells her “No, I’m not doing that to you,” that he’s happy here, that in that brief moment of clarity he realized he was successful for years and it’s taken him just now to see it.  How he constantly measured his success with his career, but now he’s succeeded where it matters most: his family.

Athlead?  Philly?  Screw that.  He has Pam.  He has his kids.  That’s everything.  He would be giving up everything.

She begs him not to quit.  He doesn’t, but will do so if he needs to.

“No, no, Jim.  This is different.  This is everything!”

“I know.  And I can’t do it.”

A dejected Darryl doesn’t understand.  Jim didn’t expect him too, and that’s okay.  Darryl’s right in that it’s everything.  Just not Jim’s everything.  That’s why he needs to quit.

Pam overhears the whole thing, and the obvious is going to happen.  He’s going to quit Athlead and become A.R.M. full time for Dwight Schrute of all people (much to Clark’s chagrin).  She sits herself on the ladies room couch, absorbing what she saw.

She knows exactly how it’s going to go down: Colin, a bachelor, will be sorely disappointed he’s quitting, but he understands where Jim’s coming from, knowing how much he adores his family after meeting them all in person; Wade and Sandra, who are married, childless, and can afford a venture like Athlead will be convinced once Jim tells them the amount he put in was far too much for them already; Isaac will bitch and moan about it since he’s on girlfriend number four and is afraid that Jim’s wife is just a nag because he’s a bigger douche than Ryan.

And yet she can’t help but agree with Isaac.

After a whole week of reconnection, forgiveness, and love, she’ll have to accept that there will always be a part of him that wants Athlead.  That wants to travel across the country, meeting his idols, making powerful connections.  But no, best to stay in the Electric City where nothing ever happens because that’s what she wants.  Especially after all the mistakes she’s made the past nine months, everything she pulled that only stirred the pot.

Because she likes it here.  It’s home, it’s where she grew up, it’s where her family lives, it’s where she fell in love and had kids.  It’s where she’ll paint these wonderful murals.

She adds that to the list of things where he supports her while she never supports him and his interests.

And after Jim has done so much to prove to her, even after a week, that he’ll be by her side no matter what.  That he’s content making moderate cash at a paper company instead of living a life of luxury doing what he loves because she’s more important than his career prospects.  It tears her apart inside, that he’ll continue to be his goofy self instead of living his dream because she likes this.  Her boring life.

She knows that there’s nothing else he needs to prove to her, and that’s what makes things worse.

She doesn’t cry, but wants to.  Out walks Creed from the stall, who notices her after he washes his hands (the first time he does so since he obtained his privilege), and notices the downtrodden Pam.  He walks to her, gets her attention and says

“Everything will be okay.”

These four words give her peace, and with a smile she quietly thanks him.

He then offers her some psychedelic mushrooms he got in Jamaica, “the good stuff.”  She politely rejects the offer, but is certainly tempted.

She walks to the car, seeing Jim, bright faced as ever.  The more genuine his smile, the more guilty she becomes.

The doc has been out for quite some time.  She stopped after “Hot Girl”.

Seeing herself as this meek little girl in a 20-something-year-old body, constantly keeping herself from what she wants, what she needs?  No.  Not anymore.  She deserves more.  He deserves FAR more.

So she decides to do what she should have done a year and a half ago: give Carol Stills a call.

Chapter End Notes:

Wow, Clark really got shafted the last few episodes, didn’t he?

3vasectomies is the author of 18 other stories.
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This story is part of the series, Episode Relateds. The previous story in the series is Threat Level Midnight: Epilogue. The next story in the series is How the DVD Was Made.

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