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Story Notes:

I'm back after little break with some more procrasti-writing - this time brought on from thoughts of an upcoming holiday and inability to focus on editing my next chapter.

For this one I gotta say thanks to DJC again for giving this an early look - and to Brian (Baumgartner) for sharing his interview with the actor who portrayed a certain, Meathead, which I borrowed some thoughts from.

Standard disclaimer applies - I don't own anything but love for the characters (well most of them, meathead excluded although I am a fan of the actor who played him.)


Author's Chapter Notes:
Happy Valentine's Day MTT

The new salesman, Jim, had only been at Dunder Mifflin for eight working days. That was why she thought it so strange to be sitting across from him recounting a story from her childhood that she’d never told a soul before. But there was something about the expressive, approachable face staring back at her with the warm green eyes that made her want to share even her biggest secrets with him.

They’d become friends almost instantly, quite possibly from the moment she walked him over to his new workspace, when she for some reason decided to impart a friendly warning to him about his deskmate, Dwight. Dwight, who just as with Jim, she had gotten an immediate sense about when she herself started, except with the odd-looking, bespectacled salesman it was not how easy-going and funny he was going to be but how bizarre and annoying, something she shared with her new friend on his first day.

And now here they were, ten days later, planning pranks to play on him together, sharing stories and laughing over lunch in the break room. She wasn’t even sorry that Roy wasn’t going to join them, again, despite the many requests she made for her fiancé to come up and eat with her so he could meet her new work friend.

As she regaled him with the tale of the chipmunk, he listened intently with a fascination she could read on his face, commenting with a complimentary joke only after she had finished sharing her story.

“Clearly that chipmunk had very good taste. He probably saw your amazing smile and wanted to get a better look.”

She could feel her cheeks go flush as the corners of her mouth lifted towards them to form a shy smile.

“Or he was just curious what you were reading.”

Her bashful grin widened and the laughter that escaped from her echoed with the sound of his, causing Phyllis to look over from her table at the far end of the room where she was eating lunch with Stanley.

Not wanting to be overheard or be a disturbance to anyone, she tried to control her giggles, waving his down as well. She already knew what a gossip Phyllis could be and how hot under the collar Stanley sometime got.

Jim did not yet.

But he seemed to follow her lead and returned his disposition to one of focused interest in her next personal narration, about the family picnics she loved to attend when she was little.

She wasn’t sure why she hadn’t ever told anyone else the story with the chipmunk before.

It wasn’t like she had done anything specific to get the cute little creature to come to her as it did during a school recess but when next she saw one at one of her beloved family picnics and moved towards it with a crumb from her sandwich, her parents had warned her to stay away. That she should never approach a wild animal, even one that seemed as friendly as the cartoon-like critters that reminded her of Simon and Theodore. They could be carrying diseases or bite her and were more likely to do so when scared by her approach.

So she never told her parents how a week earlier she’d gotten so close she was able to pet one.

Maybe they were wrong about chipmunks. And maybe what she experienced wasn’t that unusual. Maybe the adorable, pudgy-cheeked, bushy-tailed, miniature-sized creatures were known to trot straight over and sit down in just about anyone’s lap as they sat reading a book in a quiet corner of the schoolyard.

But it seemed such an intimate moment that she not only never told her parents but had always kept it to herself, until now.


There was no logical reason to be buying a gift for a girl he’d only met 12 days earlier, especially when that same girl had a fiancé who most likely surprised her with stuffed animals, jewelry and other gifts all the time just to bring out that incredible smile he had noticed on his very first day.

But logic was clearly not at play as he picked up the plush and brought it to the register to buy it. He was there at the toy store shopping for his niece’s birthday present, not trying to waste his money on pointless purchases. But as he passed through the aisle of teddy bears and furry bunnies on the way to where the salesperson said the baby dolls would be, it seemed to call to him from the shelf.

The moment he caught sight of the stuffed chipmunk that had in its tiny hands not an acorn, but a miniature open book, he thought immediately of her and couldn’t leave without bringing it home, even if he had no intention of ever giving it to her.

No, that would be too weird.

He’s pretty sure it wasn’t logic either that made him stuff it in his shoulder bag a week later to bring to the office.

His good sense, however was what kept him from presenting it to her and so it went on to live in his bottom drawer, remaining there for over three years while he fell deeper and deeper in love with her and her beautiful smile.

Every so often he thought to pull it out from its home behind the hanging files and give it a new one on her desk but then better judgment would prevail and he’d push close the drawer.

When this past December it was Pam Beesly written on the little sheet of paper he fished from the Secret Santa hat, his first thought was to wrap up Jellybean, the name he’d given to the plush toy back when she first started putting out the candy that was second to the smile that lured him to her desk so frequently, but the excuse he very often used.

It wasn’t that the stuffed animal had cost more than the twenty-dollar limit. She would likely never guess the item had set him back $36 plus tax. It was a bit of a shock to him when the cashier ran it over the scanner and he learned the price, not that it had changed his mind about buying it. It could have been $1,036 and still he would have laid his Visa down.

The thought that kept him from making it the present she would receive at the office Christmas party was what Roy might think. Toy bears and other fuzzy animals, once the recipient was over the age of twelve, were more traditionally given by a boyfriend, or in this case a fiancé, even though by now he was sure Roy wasn’t the teddy-bear or stuffed chipmunk type.

But surely he’d know the meaning behind such an intimate gift. When she said she’d never told anyone else about the book-reading chipmunk, he had to assume that didn’t include her fiancé. Jim had to accept that Roy knew all her secrets, all the sweet stories and bits of herself that made her the amazing human she was. Even if he didn’t always appreciate them or her.

He decided to go with his second choice. Almost as intimate only in way that wouldn’t send off the alarms to her fiancé. Plus, with all the bonus gifts he had to fill it with, it was sure to bring about the same heart-stopping smile he imagined the chipmunk would have. The one he thought of when he first bought the stuffed toy and every day since then.


Pam kept looking towards the door, her hopeful eyes exhibiting a glimmer of their regular sparkle whenever a delivery person walked in with flowers or a giant bear or hearts filled with chocolate, and while she watched the entrance, he watched her, his heart breaking perhaps even more than hers each time her face and the card revealed the bestowal was for someone else.

It wasn’t that he wanted Roy to prove to be the kind of man that deserved her. He didn’t want Roy to be the one to make her happy, today or any day. He wanted that to be him. But he knew it couldn’t be, not anymore now that save the date cards had an actual date to put on them.

Still, he also knew it was killing him to see her so unhappy. To watch the light slowly disappearing from her eyes with each bouquet or bear not for her.

Which was why he made the decision he did.

To make sure she got something on Valentine’s Day since Roy was clearly dropping the ball. A surprise that in the unlikely case Roy should eventually come through with something else, would have sentiment beyond any last minute, run-of the mill, meaningless gift he would come up with. Something she would cherish long after any flowers wilted or Russel Stover’s were tasted.

It didn’t matter that she might never know it was from him because he planned to leave no note.

That with no message it was from him, she’d have no indication the gift wasn’t one from her boar of a fiancé.

With all the hits he took on the football field and all the nights he got blackout drunk, who knew, he might even think he had gotten the stuffed toy himself and just not remembered the purchase or giving it to her.

But Jim knew how ridiculous that was. Oblivious as he could be most of the time, as much of a meathead as he was, he would of course know that not only had he not left her a surprise gift, but also exactly who it was that did.

And he would be more than a little pissed off to be upstaged by Jim on this lover’s holy day. Shown up by the same guy who’d been getting just a little too chummy with his girl on the recent boat trip. Outdone by the guy he’d recently found out once had a crush on the woman he’d long since claimed as his own. The friend who overstepped one too many times already when he gave her advice that went against his.

Who knew what kind of trouble he was asking for with the ex-linebacker when she thanked her fiancé that evening for the present that Roy, dumb as he could be, would have no doubt had been given to her by Jim?

He was absolutely begging for another confrontation by crossing the boundaries again. A more perilous one than the last, if Roy had completely fumbled on Valentine’s Day, which he undoubtedly had.

But he didn’t care. Didn’t care if Roy confronted him. Didn’t even care if when she thanked him, Roy took credit for it which he was just enough of a cad to do.

As long as he could bring a smile back to her face, whatever would happen tomorrow would be worth it. He’d take his lumps from Roy, figuratively or literally, the latter a strong possibility after he saw how the hothead reacted about Jim talking to her about the internship.

For today all that mattered was her and making her feel loved.


She held it together through Phyllis’ first few bouquets, and Oscar’s, and the glass heart filled with M&Ms that arrived later in the day for Kevin.

She kept her sadness in check while she gave advice on how to please Angela, not an easy task knowing even social-norm resistant Dwight was making a bigger effort than the man she was set to marry in four months.

The nonappearance of any token, buddy Valentine’s card from Jim she understood, being things were still not quite right between them after the fight they’d had last week, but it didn’t make her feel any less deflated about it. She couldn’t be sure which had a bigger impact on her current gloomy state, Roy’s typical inattentiveness or that Jim was being uncharacteristically standoffish today of all days.

It was however, when Ryan, after running out on a quick errand showed back up in the office with a dozen red roses for Kelly—Kelly who he’d only had one date with, the night before— that proved too much for her to handle.

No longer able to hold back the dam, she took off for the bathroom before the flood of tears she felt rising up began to stream down her face.

She stayed in the stall, dabbing at her eyes with toilet paper and twisting at the ring that mocked her from its position on her right hand, telling herself this was her own doing. She’d told Roy not to do anything big since they were saving for the wedding. At least he was finally listening to her, but still he was only hearing what he wanted to.

She emerged twenty minutes later, her eyes no longer wet with emotion but despite the water she splashed on her face, they remained as pink as the cardigan she was dressed in. Keeping her head down as she passed Jim on her way back to her desk, she could still feel him watching her. The mix of embarrassment and regret over their fight almost released the floodgates again, but she made it back to her space without a scene.

It was there at the desk, a large stuffed animal covering her keyboard, that her swollen eyes caught a glimpse of as she walked around to the inside.

Between her irritating contacts and the welling moisture in them, she couldn’t quite focus on the sort of creature it was and what romance-themed trinket it held between its paws until she got right up to it and when she did, the tears she’d worked so hard to keep in overwhelmed her vision and her emotions again. But this time they were accompanied by the tremendous joy that he’d remembered after all.

Damn you, Roy, for waiting until the end of the day, she murmured under her breath as she struggled to bring clarity back to her sight.

Blinking relentlessly, she picked up the toy to look around for the card her eyes were still too bleary to read but found none, and that’s when she noticed the animal’s striped torso, the pudgy cheeks, the bushy tail, and how it wasn’t a heart or an acorn, but a little book it held in between its tiny paws.

And that’s when she knew the Valentine she had in her hands hadn’t been left for her by the man she was going to marry.

Or maybe, just maybe, it was.

Chapter End Notes:

Now back to 360...

(Oh can anyone identify what movie I was thinking of when I thought of the scene with the chipmunk?) Despite the fic I shared below it is not Alvin and the Chipmunks. 

Don't ask me how I came across this but check this out:


Jam if they were chipmunks.


Maxine Abbott is the author of 19 other stories.

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