Breaking his gaze from the carollers assembled in the parking lot of Scranton Business Park, Jim turned to Pam.
“This… this happens every year?”
“Oh, yeah,” Pam chuckled, hands shoved in her pockets. “Michael pays them to come and sing carols for us. Attendance is mandatory.”
“Don’t they generally perform for free?” Jim raised a brow.
“Oh, James Halpert, you still have… so much to learn,” Pam grinned.
“When it comes to Michael Scott, nothing should surprise you.”
Michael turned his head suddenly, brows raised eagerly. “My good Lady and Sir, I heard my name and the word surprise.”
“Umm, I was just telling Jim this is one of your great surprises for us,” Pam smiled.
Jim was learning to tell the difference between a regular Pam smile and a believe-me-I-that’s-so-not-what-I-mean Pam smile. “You bring… so much culture to the workplace, Michael.”
“Well thank you,” Michael grinned. “I wanted to do something for Hanukkah as well but… I wasn’t sure, you know?”
“Oh! Well Marina is dating a Jewish guy, maybe you could ask him for ideas,” Pam grinned, nudging the woman standing on her right. “Right, Marina?”
“God, umm,” Marina shot a glare at Pam, “you know, maybe, though I think we might break up so… we’ll see.”
“Oh no!” Michael frowned. “At Christmas?”
“Yeah, he just… doesn’t love that I’m ‘just’ a customer service temp,” Marina added air quotes around ‘just’ and rolled her eyes, “and he’s more of a… career guy, so… but maybe a menorah at reception would work?”
“That sucks, sorry to hear that… though a menorah could be a nice touch,” Michael nodded, before turning back to watch the carollers.
“Thanks for that,” Marina mumbled to Pam.
“You’re welcome,” Pam grinned, “that was an impressive response.”
“Was any of that real?” Jim asked quietly, following the two women as they slipped through a gap between Meredith and Creed behind them to gain some space from Michael.
“I mean I guess I’m kinda dating the Jewish guy? Like he has his uses but honestly I don’t think he even knows my job nor do I know or care about his career opinions,” Marina shrugged.
“Oh,” Jim blinked. He thought he was doing well at handing Michael, but he clearly had a lot of catching up to do if he was going to reach these levels of storytelling to appease his boss. “Then yeah, that was really impressive.”
Marina did a mini-curtsey and flung the end of her scarf back dramatically. “Thank you very much. The more details you include the quicker the conversation with Michael ends. You gotta give the dog a bone, James.”
“Huh,” Jim considered this for a moment. He was good with his pranks, but anything to decrease the length of Random Michael Chats was useful. “I will take that on board.”
They absently watched the carollers for a moment, Stanley subtly leaning against his car to complete his crossword after a few minutes of hiding between the accountants. The carolling was actually good, so it wasn’t too difficult to engage them for a while, but it was cold and Michael had clearly paid for their entire repertoire.
“God how many more songs can they have, my hands are freezing,” Pam groaned quietly.
“Didn’t you have gloves this morning?” Jim pointed out.
“I did but they’re covered in tea. I’d put them on my desk and knocked my mug when Dwight handed me a bunch of crap to file,” Pam rolled her eyes.
“You mean… the reports we’re meant to hand in to you to file?” Jim chuckled.
“Yep, those are the very ones.”
“Well, I’ll be careful when I hand mine in,” Jim assured her, then pulled off his gloves. “Here.”
“What – no, it’s fine, I’m not taking your gloves away from you. You’re literally wearing them, Jim.”
“My hands are pretty cosy, I’ll be fine ‘til we go in.”
“Just take the freaking gloves, Pam,” Marina grabbed the gloves from Jim and put them in Pam’s hands with a bemused mutter.
Slightly bewildered, Pam stared at the gloves for a second then looked up at Jim and gave him a quick smile. “Thanks.”
As Pam put the gloves on, she tried to ignore their warmth from being on Jim’s hands. She tried not to think about how it was kind of like holding his hand. She held back a smile at how big the gloves were on her hands, the last inch or so of each finger flat and empty, and how his hands would feel linked with hers. That if she held his hand now it would stay warm. That she was totally overthinking borrowing gloves.
It's just that they were from a friend that she absolutely, definitely, had a secret crush on that she was trying very hard to suppress.
And the gloves were big enough that she could slide her engagement ring off with nobody seeing. She allowed herself to not feel guilty as she listened to the carollers. It was Christmas, after all, and this could be her secret gift to herself.
Eventually, the carolling came to an end, and she put the ring back on and gave Jim his gloves back. They made their way back inside, everyone grateful to return to the warmth of the office building. Pam sat herself back at reception, back in her real life, where she had no warm glove to hide the secrets she held. Voicemail off, pick up the messages, write them up for people to collect. She doodled a pair of knitted mittens onto Jim’s message slip and checked on her own gloves, which were still a slightly soggy affair. The now familiar beep of her AIM brought her attention back to her screen.
Marinara69: I have convinced Angelina to let me join the PPC :D crazy, I know, what on earth could I be up to??
Pam sighed despite her amusement. She couldn’t even begin to guess what kind of antics Marina had planned to willingly put herself through the torture of sitting in a Party Planning Committee meeting with Angela.