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Author's Chapter Notes:

Originally Posted 16 December, 2021

Iz Crimis

After the Christmas Party

There wasn’t any awkward tension amongst the two of them on the way back to Karen’s place, but she notices Jim’s a little… yeah.

He’s been like that ever since he returned to Scranton, and she wonders why.  I mean, she really shouldn’t, look at their coworkers.  Anyone would feel weird after interacting with them for five minutes, let alone an entire work week.

‘Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)’ by Darlene Love starts playing, “Oh, I love this one,” she turns up the radio, “The snow’s coming down / I’m watching it fall…” Jim smiles, but didn’t sing along, instead nodding his head and tapping his steering wheel to the beat.

As the song plays, his conversation with Michael not an hour earlier keeps replaying his head.  She doesn’t deserve to be a distraction, no matter how broken his heart may be.

They pull up to the driveway as the song fades.  ~“And was ‘Baby, Please Come Home’, alwa—”~  Jim shuts the radio DJ off, preparing for the worst.

This is gonna hurt like a mother.

“Hey, you wanna come inside for a bit?” Karen asks, concerned.

“Yeah, sure,” he responds as casually as possible.

Once she unlocks the door, he walks in and makes a beeline for the couch.  He sits down, his leg bouncing like crazy, wanting to be anywhere else.  But he needs to stop this.  It’s not fair to either of them.

Someone as amazing as Karen shouldn’t be a rebound.

She sits next to him with two glasses of wine in-hand, and casually looks at him, “What’s up, Halpert?”

“What’s up?” he shrugs, trying to prolong this.

“Come on, man, you’ve been weirded out since you got in the car,” she rubs his shoulder, “Spill.”

This is getting harder and harder by the second, “Karen, I-I think we should break up.”

It had to be done.


And now he’s back there.  Back to that night.  Only this doesn’t sting nearly as much, which is both a relief and kinda sucks.

He tries to salvage this as best he can, “Look, you’re amazing and talented and you deserve so much better than—”

“It’s Pam, isn’t it?”

The pointedness of her question throws him off for a second, but he sighs out.  Like a kid who got in trouble, he admits it, “It’s always been Pam.”

Karen scoffs, setting her drink down, “This is rich,” she get up out of her seat to saunter around.


“I can’t believe I thought you were different.  I mean, I moved from another state for you, you know that right?”

He briefly gets annoyed, “Karen, that was your decision.”

“Yeah, well who’s the one who talked me into it, huh?  ’Cause it certainly wasn’t Andy.”

He gets up to walk over to her, “I know you must hate me right now, but we can—”

“Oh yeah, I’m fine with just staying friends, yeah.  You know, after you dump me for a girl you used to work with right before Christmas rolls around.”

“Karen, please—”

“Just go already.”

He can hear the crack in her voice that she tried so desperately to hide.

Jim, upset with himself, simply gives an “I’m sorry,” and walks back to his car, being sure to grab his coat.

As soon as the door slams shut, she briskly walks back to the couch and sits down, head in her hands, crying.

On the way home, Pam thinks about how much Jim has changed, and yet hasn’t.  He’s still Jim, he still loves pranks, he’s still as witty and dorky as ever.  But it’s almost if he’s trying to downplay it, suppress it even.

He’s been like that ever since he returned to Scranton, and she wonders why.  But tonight, it’s been made obvious to her: Karen.

She likes Karen a lot, especially after tonight.  Jim deserves someone like her.  She’s smart and savvy and confident and maybe a little bloodthirsty?  In any case, she should be happy for him.  For her, too.  But… shouldn’t Karen like Jim for who he is?  So he doesn’t have to change for her?

She fails to see the irony in that.

‘Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)’ by Darlene Love starts playing, and she turns off the radio.

She dwells on how Roy was acting tonight.  He’s trying, she knows he’s trying, but she knows it’s wrong.  She knows how it’ll end.  Besides, she already screwed things up with Jim, she needs a while to think before jumping head-first into another relationship.

But… she’s lonely.  God, she’s lonely.

She thought she had the chance to make it up to Jim, too.  But whatever, it’s fine.

It’s fine.

She walks in, grabs a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey, and gets to scooping as she watches a rerun of Seinfeld.

But it’s fine.

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