They sway together slowly, music filling an ear for each of them. He's not taken his eyes off of her since she asked if he had new music and he reached into his pocket for his iPod. As she stares at the ground, her body moving backwards and forwards slowly, he traces every line of her body, committing it to memory. He starts at the top of her head, every honey auburn hair, each curl, he takes them all in. He moves down to her eyes, only able to see her long eyelashes fluttering slightly as she continues looking at her feet. Just as he's about to move his gaze down to her perfect pink lips, this time she suddenly looks up. Sea green becomes his favourite colour, although, hasn't it always been? Their eyes lock and it's all he can do. He brings his hand up to cup her cheek, stroking the soft skin with his thumb. He watches her stare momentarily flick from his eyes to his lips before returning again. He dips his head and brushes her lips lightly with his own. She immediately opens to him and their tongues meet, soft sighs emanating from both of them. The song continues playing, wrapping them up against the cool night air, keeping them in this moment forever.
He opens his eyes, and as always, she's sitting next to him on the hard metal chair that lives next to his bed.
"Hey, you're here," he croaks out, trying to sit up, but can't.
"Of course," she smiles back. She runs her pale hand over his damp forehead.
"Have you been here long?"
"Just a few minutes."
"I'm sorry," he replies, tears filling his eyes.
She starts to shush him, but before she can reply, they're interrupted by a male nurse dressed all in white.
"How you feeling today Jim?" he asks.
"Ok, just my head hurts a lot."
"This should help," the nurse says as he pushes the plunger on a syringe into Jim's arm. He watches Jim wince slightly, before falling back to sleep.
"Well, either way, this is an amazing gift because it comes with bonus gifts. Look inside," he says, beaming at her.
"Oh my god! The yearbook picture!" she squeals in delight. "Oh my god, it's incredible. Is this the," she pauses and looks up. "Wait, what did you take out of the box?
"Um, it was, uh, nothing, I, um, don't worry about it," he stutters, face flushing.
"No, tell me!" she pleads with a little laugh.
He takes a breath and looks down at his feet knowing he can't really get out of this. "Not here, come into the stairwell." He walks towards the office door and she quickly nips behind him, intrigued as to what he took out of the box. He stops abruptly at the top of the stairs and turns to her, a white envelope held between his hands, the corners slightly squashed from where he's been fiddling with it. "Here," he says, thrusting the envelope at her.
She takes it with a raised eyebrow and slowly opens the flap, pulling out the simple Christmas card. She bites her lip and furrows her brow as she reads the words he'd scrawled the previous evening. She looks up at him, and he can't read her face. "I, I just," she begins and he cuts her off.
"No, I know," he says, shaking his head. "I shouldn't have said anything. I'm sorry."
"No, Jim. It's," she pauses. "I love you too." She takes a step closer to him and slides her palms up his chest until she can reach to pull him down slightly and press her lips to his.
"I'm so glad I didn't take the iPod," she smiles when he wakes again.
"Oh yeah?" he smiles back.
"Yeah, I mean, who uses iPods anymore?" she giggles.
"Beesly, you're terrible," he laughs with a shake of his head.
"Wanna listen?" she asks, her hand hovering above the dial on his grandmother's radio that sits on the dresser. He nods his head slightly and the room fills with the soft music of his favourite song. He'd give anything to reach out and hold her. To sway together to this song again. But he can't. Instead, he closes his eyes as tears make their way down his face.
"So what's it like dating a cheerleader?" she giggles, causing him to nervously laugh.
"Oh, um," he stalls, licking his lips. She's smiling up at him, but he can't return the smile. He opens his mouth to say something, anything, but the words just don't come.
"I'm cold," she finally says and goes to move to push past him, but he puts his arm out stopping her.
"Wait, it's, I," he takes a breath. "I don't wanna be dating her."
"Oh? I thought things were good between you guys?"
"No, it's. They are. It's just," he pauses. "I'm in love with you."
"What?" she softly gasps.
"I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't have said anything, I just. I just can't watch you be with him anymore and not say anything. I'm sorry, I should go," he says, ducking his head low and turning to leave.
"No, Jim, wait," she calls, causing him to turn around.
"You're my best friend," she says, her eyes pleading. He laughs bitterly, as if his second place prize means nothing. "But, I'm in love with you too. I just, I've been too scared to admit it."
"Oh my god," he whispers as he moves closer to her, closing the space between them. Her coat is too big for him to be able to wrap his arms around her, so he carefully places his hands on both sides of her face. She giggles at the coldness of his skin on hers, but is silenced when his lips meet hers.
"I really was cold that night," she says as he opens his eyes.
"Yeah, you just stood there, not saying anything! I was freezing!" she giggles.
"I was nervous!" he tries to shoot back. But he catches her, with her trademark toothy grin and tongue poking out, and he feels it all over again. He can't look at her right now. He can only close his eyes and hope the pain stops.
She's staring at him across the table in the kitchen, that tongue poking between her teeth. "Jim, you can tell me anything," she giggles.
He smiles at her, but this time, rather than dropping his gaze to the table, he takes her hand in his. He goes to speak but she interrupts him.
"Jinx, remember," she smiles. "You haven't bought me a Coke yet."
"I'll buy you a thousand Cokes. I just needed to tell you," he pauses and takes a breath, "that," he looks at her, she's smiling expectantly at him, "I'm in love with you."
She bites her lip, pulling her hand from his and plays with her engagement ring. As she spins it around her finger, she pushes it upwards and places it gently on the table between the two of them. They both stare at it, until they slowly lift their eyes and look longingly at each other.
"I love you too," she whispers, a tear slipping down her cheek. "I need to sort some things out, but I do. I love you." He takes her hand and squeezes it gently, stroking the back of it softly with his thumb. "You still owe me that Coke though," she giggles as she wipes away the tears with her free hand.
"You never did buy me that Coke," she laughs when he opens his eyes again. She's sitting on the chair, a can of Coke in her hand. She takes a small sip and smiles at him. "I can't believe I had to buy it for you."
"I'm sorry Beesly," he says, trying to reach for her. She moves closer to him instead and strokes his hair.
"Shhhh," she whispers. "It was you. It was always you. Even when I didn't know it."
He's crying again, the sobs coming harder this time. He wants to hold her, but he can't move. "It hurts Pam, it hurts so much," he whimpers. All he can do is close his eyes and pray the hurt stops soon.
"Are you really gonna marry him?" She nods, but he can't stop holding her hands. He squeezes them gently. "I'm still gonna wait for you. If you change your mind in an hour, next week, 10 years from now. I'll be here." He reaches forward and places a soft kiss on her cheek before he finally pulls his hands away from hers. He hears her sob as he leaves the bullpen and it breaks his heart. Again. He slumps down the hallway wall, unable to hold back his own tears, and ends up in a crumpled ball with his head resting on his knees. His body physically shakes with the hurt. It takes a moment for him to realise that he's no longer alone, and slowly looks up.
"I don't know how to do this," she quietly says. Her head is hung low and her hands are wringing each other. He goes to stand, jumping to his feet as fast as humanly possible. "It's too scary, and I don't know what to say or how to change anything."
"Whatever you need, anything, I'm here for you. For as long as you need," he says, thinking immediately that he needs to call Jan to cancel that transfer. She nods slightly, before she crumbles. He's there, ready to catch her, and wraps his arms around her, bringing her to his chest. He holds her tightly until her tears subside, and then carries on after that. They sway together ever so slightly, as if they can hear the music playing in their ears from so long ago.
"I'm sorry it took me so long," she says, clutching his hand as he slowly opens his eyes. He shakes his head as if to tell her it doesn't matter. He can't form any words right now. "I guess you just surprised me." And he nods.
"I know," he croaks out, his eyes threatening to spill tears, just like they did on that very night.
"I hate seeing you cry. I hate it now, and I hated it then. It was like a punch to the gut," she says, moving to wipe the tears away, but she's interrupted.
"Jim, how are you feeling?" the doctor asks, interrupting them.
He lets out a deep sigh and stares out of the window. "Same as always." He pauses and looks at the doctor. "When can I go home?" he pleads.
"Well, I think you need a little more rest before you go home, but I can send the nurse back in with something to help you sleep?" the doctor asks, but Jim shakes his head. "Something to listen to?" This time Jim nods. The doctor turns the dial on the old radio until the music fills the room. He leaves Jim staring out of the window until his eyes grow heavy.
"So when do I get to hear everything? Are you still getting unpacked or you wanna grab a coffee or something after work?" she asks hopefully, arms crossed across herself, carefully guarded.
"Oh, um. Tonight? Actually. No, l'm, uh, just still getting settled," he says, regretting it immediately.
"Oh yeah, no. You know. Whenever."
"But how about tomorrow night?" he asks, hoping he hasn't blown it.
"Oh, um, yeah," she smiles, her entire face lighting up.
"I'm really sorry I can't do tonight. I, um, I need to take care of something."
"No worries, we'll hang out tomorrow."
"Can't wait," he smiles.
"I'm really sorry I said no to coffee that first night I was back," he sighs when he opens his eyes.
"It's ok. You had other things going on," she assures him as she gently places her hand on top of his, where it rests on top of the scratchy hospital blanket.
"I know, but still. I should never have come back with her. It wasn't fair to you, hell, it wasn't fair to her. God, I'm such a fucking moron," he moans, trying to smack his head with his hand, but he's restrained. "What the fuck? Why am I chained up? What's going on? Pam?" he asks her, confusion written all over his face. "Pam! Pam!" he screams, but the nurses rush in, oblivious to her as they struggle to calm him and help him fall back into a slumber.
"When are we going to get to see some of those famous Beesly dance moves?" he asks, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.
"Oh," she laughs. "I'm pacing myself."
"Come on. Get out there. Give the people what they want. Come and dance with me"
"No," she whines. "I'm such a dorky dancer."
"I know. It's very cute," he says with a smile and a slight blush. "Come on," he says with a nod of his head towards the dance floor and an extended hand. She takes his hand, the blush creeping up her neck as she tries to bite back her smile. The song changes tempo, slowing, so that he places a hand on each side of her hips and he runs her hands up to rest on his shoulders. They sway together slowly, lost in each other's eyes, the music all around them, as if only playing for them.
"You looked so pretty that night," he says when he wakes and finds her sitting next to him, the music, their own special song, still playing in his ears.
"Thank you," she blushes. "You didn't look so bad yourself. You scrub up pretty nicely."
"Think that'll be us one day?" he asks with a quirk of his eyebrow. Her own knit together in confusion. "You know? Like Phyllis and Bob? Married?"
"Wow, is that a proposal?" she laughs.
"Nah, I'd kick your ass with a proposal. I just," he pauses. "I don't think I could live without you."
"You've got to," she says, a tear spilling down her cheek.
"What?" he asks, but she just covers her face to hide the tears and shakes her head. "Pam?" he tries again, but she leaves him, unable to say what she needs to. He stares at the wall, listening to his favourite song on the radio, as the room grows dark around him. He can almost hear the crackle of the tiki torch flames, smell the remnants of the burning coals, feel the sand itching his feet inside his sneakers.
"How are your feet?" he asks.
"Medium rare. Thanks," she laughs slightly.
He pauses, looking everywhere but directly at her. "The real reason that I went to Stamford, was because," he pauses, thinking of what to say, "I wanted to be, not here."
"I know," she nods.
"And even though I came back, I just, I feel like I've never really," he takes a breath, "come back." She nods, as if about to say something, but he continues. "But now, I feel like I am back. And that was, god, Pam, what you just did out there, that was the bravest thing I've ever seen. I should have been there for you when you called off your wedding, and I should have been at your art show. I know I've been a crappy best friend, and I hope I can do anything I can to make it up to you. I love you. I never stopped. I just, god, I hope it's not too late."
"Jim, how are you feeling today?" the doctor asks as he enters the room, waking Jim from his slumber.
"Oh, uh, where am I?" Jim says, confused as he looks around the room. "I was just at the beach."
"Yes Jim, you were. But that was two weeks ago. You're at Scranton Psychiatric Hospital. You've been here since the death of your friend."
"What?" Jim chokes out, unable to believe what he's just been told. "Who, who died?"
"We've been over this many times Jim, you need to remember. It was Pam Beesly. She died in a car accident. Her car hit a tree after you'd been at the beach with your company. There was a drunk driver," the doctor explains.
"No, no, no, no, no," Jim cries. "No, this is some prank. Is this Dwight?" he asks, pulling on the restraints tying him to the bed. "No, this can't be happening. Pam's been here. I've seen her."
"Jim, can you remember any of the sessions we've been having over the last week?" Jim shakes his head sadly, tears spilling down his cheek. "You've been telling me about all your missed chances with Pam and how you wish you could make it right. That she's the only one you want to be with."
"I? What?" he asks, still confused as to what's going on. "But, I am with Pam. I told her. There was, there was the time we had our first date on the roof and danced. Or was it on that boat? No wait. I told her at the beach I hoped it wasn't too late. We're together. She can't be dead. Let me out of there," he screams, pulling on the leather cuffs again.
"Ok, ok, let's just take a breath and calm down ok?" the doctor says. "I'm just going to get a nurse to help sedate you. I'll be back in a moment."
She's sitting on the chair by his bed again. "Pam? What's going on?" he asks her. "What's the doctor talking about? Beesly, come on, tell him you're not dead. You're sitting right there for god's sake."
"Jim, I wish I could. I wish so many things. I wish I'd been honest with you. From the start when we first met, when you told me how you felt about me after that casino night fundraiser, when you came back from Stamford. But then when I finally did, it was too late. It was killing me to see you with her, to know that you'd replaced me as your best friend. That she's the one you're in love with now," she sobs.
"Pam, I never replaced you. It was always you, it still is."
She shakes her head and purses her lips. "You two had so much fun at the beach, I couldn't stop staring at you both. And in the office, the way you ignored me for her, it hurt so much. Jim, you were going to start a new life together in New York." She takes another breath and looks at him. "I'm not brave like you are. I wanted to be that time we spoke on the phone, and when you came back from Stamford, and even when you were confiding in me about your problems with her. I tried at the beach, but you shot me down, and now I've made my peace with it. I've had to."
"No," he screams out, tears soaking his face. "No, Pam, no, please, don't say that. I love you, I love you so much, I've always loved you. It's only ever been you."
"And I love you too Jim, but it's time for you to move on. We just never got the timing right, you know? And now it's too late," she says, wiping her tears away. "I know you'll be ok, you just need to forget about me. Stop trying to fix everything you think you could have done, because it won't help. You need to focus on yourself, because I really do believe in your future. It's going to be amazing." She gets up to lean over the bed. "You were my only unfinished business, I can't be yours. I've told you how I felt and what I wished could have been different, but it doesn't change anything, so it's time for me to go. I'll always love you, Jim." She strokes his cheek softly, and he swears he can feel it.
He tries to cover her hand with his, but the restraints won't let him. "Pam?" he calls, looking around the room, finding it empty, but instead hearing his favourite song. Their favourite song. "Pam?" he tries again. But he knows it's too late.