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Story Notes:
Title taken from Howie Day’s ‘Collide’.

Although Jim doesn’t literally wake up on a Saturday morning with a smile on his face, he does come to his drowsy senses in a fairly good mood. It’s a Saturday, and he’s not working today, and when you consider Michael’s track record of wrangling, roping, lassoing and otherwise Rawhide-ing the team into working overtime on weekends on multiple previous occasions, Jim’s learnt not to take happy days like this for granted.

He turns onto his side and wriggles a little further down into the covers, letting out a contented sigh as he idly recalls the highlights of Friday’s workday: he hadn’t managed to leave the office before six-thirty, because Michael still hasn’t learnt to sign off on time cards and purchase orders during actual work hours, but he’d at least had been able to catch some of the Phillies game on the radio on the drive home; he’d made seven successful sales – an improvement on his average for the week, but his monthly total is slightly down – of which six were before eleven o’clock, making for a new personal best; oh, and he’d been at least halfway to convincing Dwight that Phyllis was the last living member of the Romanov dynasty until Kevin had opened his dumb mouth.

Still, if growing up a sports fan in Philadelphia teaches you anything, it’s that you’ve got to lose a few to win a few. Or lose a lot to win one. Or lose on such a consistent basis that the victories are treated as minor miracles. Or just lose, lose, lose some more, and, hey, you know what, guys, how about you just keep losing and sucking forever until you don’t even know whether little four-year-old Jimmy just imagined that time Moses Malone swept the Lakers in four.

That being said, however: although it can feel at times like Philly fandom might actually be capable of matching the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company for reminding you of how you live in a cold, unfeeling universe where the only inevitability is the icy embrace of death, Jim’s got a good feeling this weekend. The Phillies are still top of the NL East after beating the Nationals last night, and hopefully the city will be two-for-two by Monday morning, because the Eagles are playing the Bears tomorrow night and they’d looked pretty good against Pittsburgh last week. He’s been talking it over with Toby at the water cooler and they both think that now Jackson’s got that first score under his belt, the rookie’s partnership with McNabb should give them more of a deep threat down the field. Things might actually be going their way for once. Things might actually be turning around

But if this cautious, hopeful optimism feels unfamiliar for Jim, it’s nothing – nothing – compared to the sheer mind-melting insanity of waking up to see Pam in his bed.

Of course, she’s not lying asleep in his bed. Technically speaking, she’s not even lying in his bed – she’s sitting cross-legged and facing Jim, a steaming mug cupped in her hands. Jim’s not sure if it’s the same regular coffee with cream and three sugars she has in the office, because she’s said before that she likes to drink tea when she’s not in a work environment – wait, does he still have those fancy herbal teas Oscar got him for his birthday last year? It could be citrus, or peppermint, or oh, man, if there are any of those lemon and ginger teabags left, Jim might have to have one of those – actually, you know what, that’s not the point right now. The point is that Pam is here, in his bed, and even just saying that to himself means that he’s probably going to have to stay under the covers for a little while longer.

But that’s okay, right? That just means the moment will last longer. The, uh, moment where he’s staring at Pam like a lovestruck idiot, which makes him sound like a bit of a dumbass until he remembers that he basically did that for three years whilst she had a fiancé. You could argue that dumbass is an improvement on creep or maybe even weirdo, but it doesn’t exactly make him feel better. He much prefers staring at Pam to wallowing in equal parts self-pity and self-loathing; it’s a much nicer view than staring at Hungover, Depressed Jim in the mirror.

And, see, Pam always looks great – she’s the prettiest girl Jim knows – but there’s something about the way she looks in the morning light that’s seeping through his crappy blinds. She looks a bit tired, and Jim would feel guilty about keeping her up late last night if she hadn’t been making it extremely clear that she’d been enjoying herself just as much as he had. Her face is a little pale, but that only makes the green in her eyes seem a little more vivid. Her auburn hair is loose and messy, with tousled curls falling down her shoulders and disappearing into the collar of… one of Jim’s sweaters.

Oh, God. Oh, God in Heaven.

Her hand’s reaching over to push his hair back from his forehead, and her eyes are meeting his and widening at the realization that he’s awake, and her mouth – her mouth’s doing that thing, where she purses her lips, and then she bites back a laugh, and then there’s that beautiful, beaming smile spreads across her face.

Jim can feel his own lips twitching, stretching into a silly grin. He’s been in love with Pam Beesly for nearly five years now; he’s been measuring out a half-decade in Scranton in longing glances and wistful stares. But now, by some crazy, Rocky Balboa-style one-in-a-million shot – yeah, okay, he heard it, he won’t be using that one when the camera crews come back in a couple of weeks, he can put his Philly pride aside for that one – she says she likes him back. And the way she strokes her hand through his hair and smooths it back from his brow, achingly tender fingers brushing lightly against his skin, he thinks he can believe it.

“Hey,” he croaks out, voice deep and husky from sleep.

“Hey,” she whispers right back, her blue eyes shining with affection. “Wakey-wakey.”

“Rise and shine.” He thinks about getting up to kiss her good morning, but he’s very comfortable right now. Plus, morning breath. “Sleep okay?”

“Slept great,” she answers as her fingers slip down to the nape of his neck. “How about you?”

Her thumb rubs along his jaw and brushes against his earlobe, and for a moment, Jim is vividly reminded of the warmth of her breath as she had gasped and panted into his ear last night.

Yeah, he’s not getting out of bed today, not a chance in hell.

“Well, you know,” he hedges. “I got to bed early, but I didn’t get to sleep ‘til late.”

“Oh, really?” she hums. “That’s strange.”

“Yeah.” He’s not the only one trying not to smirk. “I was just up all night.”

She lets out a snort that sounds halfway between a sneeze and a bullfrog going ribbit. “That must have been really hard for you.”

There’s a mischievous glint in her eye, and Jim’s thrilled that she’s playing along.

“Oh, yeah.” He nods, feeling the pillow against his cheek. “Long and hard.”

She shakes her head slightly at the schoolboy comment, but she’s smiling all the same. “I haven’t been up that long. Just a couple minutes. Made myself a tea; hope you don’t mind.”

“S’cool,” Jim says. The only he minds about Pam making herself at home in his kitchen is that he’s of a mind to make it their kitchen, like, yesterday. “Did you change? You weren’t wearing this last night.”

He doesn’t say that Pam wasn’t wearing much of anything last night, but judging from the way her cheeks slightly redden, he doesn’t have to.

“It’s the weekend,” she retorts primly. “I’m not going to wear my work clothes on the weekend.”

Jim’s all in favor of Pam not wearing any clothes on the weekend, but he’s still hung up on the fact she’s wearing his clothes. She’s rolled the cuffs up on his sweater to her elbows, and a couple of her toenails have this chipped lavender paint or varnish or whatever on them. It’s absolutely adorable.

“I see,” he says. “Naked Saturdays, huh?”

Her cheeks go from dusty pink to full-on crimson, and she breaks eye contact so quickly, her hair takes a moment to catch up. Jim winces as soon as he realizes his mistake. He’d been so careful for years to not make any comments that could be construed as even remotely suggestive, Roy’s burly shadow elbowing his way into every too-long pause or awkward chuckle at the reception desk. He’s still getting used to this – getting used to them – but he’s had years to think about what it would be like if he was the one Pam had chosen. Maybe he’s moving too fast, pushing Pam to step over the line that separates teasing from flirting, from fondness to… whatever she feels for him now.

“Or, uh, you can wear my stuff,” he says hastily. He can feel the tips of his ears burning. “Shorts, sweater, whatever. That’s cool, too.”

“It’s a nice sweater.” She’s still staring resolutely down at whatever beverage she’s drinking this morning. “Very warm. And soft.”

“That’ll be the fabric softener,” he manages, trying very hard not to make things any more awkward than he already has.

Her eyes dart to his and then back down to her lap, and her fingers tap against her mug. “It smells like you.”

“It looks better on you,” he says truthfully.

“Thanks.” She treats him to another shy smile. “You could have one of my cardigans if you wanted, but they might be a bit small on you.”

“Thanks, but I think I’ll pass.”

“I thought you might.”

They share another smile, and Jim thinks that this must be what happiness feels like.

“I don’t recognize this mug,” he says instead, because he doesn’t want to scare her off.

Pam obligingly raises it slightly and shows it off so he can appreciate it from every angle. “It’s one of mine. Brought it over from work.”

“Yeah?” Jim tries to play it cool, but he thinks there’s a very real possibility that his heart is about to beat out of his chest. “I like it.”

She’s bought one of her mugs over, he thinks to himself dazedly. She could wash it and leave it here, in one of his cupboards. It could stay here, like a permanent thing. He doesn’t have a cupboard dedicated specifically to mugs, but if she brought a couple of mugs over, he could make a start on it. They could make a start on it. And she’s wearing one of his sweaters, and okay, he’s probably getting a bit ahead of himself here, but maybe he can convince her that if she’s leaving mugs here, she should take some of his sweaters and shirts home with her, as, like, a nuclear-deterrent-type thing to guarantee he’ll look after her mugs. She could leave some of her cardigans here, too, or maybe there could be a drawer specifically for Pam’s underwear. Like a way of marking her territory, or something. If Pam wants to mark her territory, Jim is very much on board. He’s pretty sure she left a hickey on his neck last night.

“You know what it reminds me of, with that color?” he asks. “That teapot I got you for Secret Santa.”

Pam’s just in the motion of raising her mug to her lips when she freezes. She hunches her shoulders and tucks her elbows into her sides, and she doesn’t just seem smaller so much as dimmer, like someone’s turned the brightness down.

“That’s the reason I bought it,” she says quietly as she lowers her hands back into her lap. “But that was ages ago. In March.”

Jim knows he’s said the wrong thing, somehow, but he’s not quite sure what the right thing to say is. All he can think to do is just lamely parrot her words back to her. “In March?”

“Yeah.” She’s staring into the mug like it holds the answers to the great mysteries of the universe. “Before you left.”

Ah.

Jim winces, because he recognizes the hurt note in her voice from all the times her asshole ex-fiancé said the wrong thing at an obnoxiously loud volume, and she had to smile brightly and try to pretend like it didn’t affect her at all. “Pam, I –”

“I liked the way they matched,” she interrupts, her words suddenly urgent and rushed. “But then you told me you loved me, and then you left, and I ended things with Roy, so I had to leave, and – and I was living in this apartment all by myself, and the only reason I brought it in to be my work mug was because every time I sat down at the table in the kitchen and had dinner, I had to look at this teapot, and this stupid mug, and all I could think about was how my best friend –”

She breaks off, and she’s doing that thing where she’s blinking rapidly and swallowing hard and looking anywhere but at him.

“I didn’t know if you loved me or if you hated me,” she whispers. “And I didn’t know if I loved you or – if I kind of hated you, too.”

Jim pushes the duvet down – and doesn’t miss the way her eyes first dart to and then away from his bare chest, but he can’t let his lizard brain think about that whilst she’s literally in his bed – and leans forward to press a kiss to Pam’s knee. She’s wearing a pair of his basketball shorts that will probably go down to her mid-calf if she stands up in them, and he takes a moment to rest his forehead against her thigh and feel her warmth through the thin material.

Pam’s a very tactile person, she likes showing her affection through little touches here and there. And for the longest time, that had been all Jim had been given – little touches, like the way she ran her finger over his heartline when she was reading his palm, or the way she’d grabbed hold of his hand on Halloween when he’d come out of Michael’s office. He’d taken those touches greedily, trying to convince himself that it was enough, that this was what she gave her best friend and that this was enough – and then he had come back to Scranton with the rest of the Stamford branch, and she had hugged him before he could even finish his joke, she’d flung her arms around him and he’d felt the warmth of her body and inhaled the smell of her shampoo and had the sudden, horrifying realization that, nope, all that time hadn’t helped, all that distance hadn’t helped, he was still in love with Pam Beesly and that wasn’t going to be changing anytime soon. She likes touching and being touched, it makes her feel grounded, gives her something to hold onto. And Jim – well, Jim’s never really been great with words.

Oh, sure, he’s witty, he’s charming, he knows how to make people laugh, but that’s what makes it so hard sometimes. He knows how easy it is to be superficial and glib, so he’s always trying to make sure that what he says means something, so there’s no way she can think he’s not taking this seriously, taking them seriously. He’s never been serious about anything the way he is about her.

So rather than say anything, he presses another kiss to her knee before flopping back into the covers.

“You wanna come lie down?” He asks, making a point of craning his neck to look up at her. “It’s pretty good down here.”

She visibly brightens at the invitation, and barely pauses to lean over and set her mug on his desk before she’s scrambling back to lie down beside him. She’s on top of the covers and he’s underneath them, and he has to chuckle at the sheepish smile she gives him when she realizes this, but in another little flurry of limbs, she’s underneath the covers with him. She wriggles around to make herself comfortable, and she comes close to impaling him a couple of times with her pointy elbows and knees, but Jim’s fear for his own safety is far outweighed by his interest in getting reacquainted with her body – elbows, knees, and everything else that goes with them.

“Here’s good,” she agrees, ducking her head to nestle under his chin with a contended sigh. And then, quieter and shyer, the words muffled against his chest: “We’re good.”

He wraps his arm around her shoulders and pulls her closer to him, until he can bury his face in her hair and breathe her in.

“We’re good,” he agrees. His mouth brushes against her hairline as he speaks, lower lip dragging against her forehead, and even if his memories of last night aren’t going to be irrevocably seared into his brain forever and a day, this feeling of kissing her skin will be enough to fuel his fantasies for the rest of his life.

“We’re good,” he can’t help repeating again, and nor can he help kissing her again. “We’re here, now. We’re good.”

He can tell that she doesn’t quite believe him, so he’ll just have to let his actions speak louder than his words. That’s okay. He’ll make a million grilled-cheese sandwiches if he has to.

“What’s on the schedule for today?” He asks, smacking his lips together experimentally – mm, morning breath. “Anywhere you gotta be?”

She shakes her head, and he knows he should be paying attention, but it’s hard not to be distracted by the way her hair curls and sways around her face, falling into her green-gray eyes.

“No,” she answers, before her eyebrows pull together. “Unless – there’s something you wanted to do? Or somewhere you wanted to go? Do you want me to go?”

She meets his eyes, and Jim’s struck for a moment by the way she looks up at him from underneath her lashes – with something that he might almost call timidity if it wasn’t Pam – whip-smart, feisty Pam, who’s always quick with a joke and who tells him to suck it and who adjudicates the rules of Jinx as an unflinchingly rigid arbiter. But this is Pam, and for all that he loves her to the moon and back, Jim knows he sometimes has to remind himself that the reason she’s the person she is around him is because she couldn’t always be that person around her total douche of an ex.

He knows she’s used to worrying about being too boring or clingy or needy, but God, it kills him to think that she might feel that way with him – that she might think he’s always one step away from pushing her out the door so he can go play basketball with his friends, or get wasted at the bar, or do something inane and possibly illegal with fucking jet skis. She’s so used to being an afterthought that she finds it hard to believe she’s his priority, that he wants her to stay. She worries that he’s going to grow tired of her, or see that she’s boring or lame or whatever, and he doesn’t know how to get down on one knee and swear his eternal, undying devotion to her without it coming off as really fucking intense and weird. She’s heard Roy give her those sweet nothings a thousand times before, and they don’t mean anything unless you do something about them.

By some hitherto-unknown strength of character, Jim resists the temptation to snake his arm around Pam and roll them both into the middle of the bed. He reaches out and runs his hand down her arm, and the way she inhales at his touch makes him want to kiss the air out of her lungs.

“No place I want to go,” he reassures her, as firmly as he can. “Nothing I want to do.”

“Really? Nothing?”

Maybe it’s the way she presses her feet against his leg and curls her toes along his calf that makes him bold. Maybe it’s something in her voice. Or maybe it’s that he’s spent so long being shy and patient – and, to be honest, being a total wuss about it – and he’s tired of backing off. But whatever it is, Jim decides to take the chance he passed up on earlier, and he allows a little bit of a smirk to tug at the corner of his mouth.

“Well,” he starts, shifting closer to her. “Maybe I can think of one thing I want to do this morning.”

Pam must hear something in his voice, because when she blinks in mock-innocence, she makes sure to bat her eyelashes at him. God, it does something to him. “Oh, really?”

“Really,” he confirms, before making one important amendment. “Well, it’s sort of less of a thing, and kind of more of an activity.”

She makes a little sound of comprehension as she slides her hand up and over his chest. “Oh, so like a team-bonding thing?”

“Sure,” he hums. “Where we all come together.”

She lets out a loud groan as he kisses her, but she’s laughing all the same. Even the morning breath isn’t enough to take the smile off her lips.



calcliffbas is the author of 1 other stories.
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