DISCLAIMER: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
WARNING: Contains coarse language and depictions of mental-health issues.
This story is, really, a practice in self-indulgence. I love the show, but most of Season 9 left a bad taste in my mouth. I wanted to provide a "how else it could have happened", given the limitations NBC had. While several pivotal plot points will still occur, others will completely alter, and one what-if scenario will reshape the entire events of the story.
UPDATE 26 MAR. 2021: ABANDONED, WILL EVENTUALLY REPOST UNDER NEW NAME
Unfortunately, given how busy I am with work and school, don't expect regular updates. I will get this story done, but I rather it not be rushed.
This is the only original chapter, which gives a more satisfying conclusion to Kelly and Ryan's story and expands on everyone else's summer vacation.
“It’s been a great year!” — Bob Kazamakis
It was the summer, and the film crew hasn’t come back yet. Sabre is officially dead, the deranged and sex-crazed Robert California has left the company, and David Wallace — the most patient man in the paper-selling business — has claimed the title C.E.O. for the new and improved Dunder Mifflin, needing to be rebuilt from the ground up.
Dwight Kurt Schrute wants nothing more than to continue the Schrute bloodline. It’s his dream to conceive a child, something that will ensure that his family — a proud family of German-American beet farmers — will live on for generations. It’s what most anyone would want, and it was probably the most relatable part about him.
He sits there, in the hospital room, drinking his beet runoff energy drink (which in retrospect was a bad idea), awaiting the results. He wants to know for certain, but his answer was concrete. But… what if it was the wrong answer? Miracles could happen. It happened when Mose finally learned to read five days ago. So maybe he could be wrong. What if those really were Lipton’s genes, or even Angela’s? Oh please. Her proclamation of her being “Little Pregs” was hysterical in hindsight; Schrutes are noticeably large, genetically destined to be farmers. He knows Phillip Lipton is really a Schrute. Oscar all but said it himself the day he was born. Prominent forehead, short arms, tiny nose. It was undeniable, irrefutable.
In walks Angela Noelle Martin-Lipton, Phillip’s mother. She’s sick of this. Honestly, truly, sick of this. He won’t let this go, and it’s high time that he did. They are done, one hundred percent done. And yet… the memory of their night together is forever etched into her mind, as much as she tries to push it away. Because everyone, even Creed, knew that’s what she was best at: denial and deflection.
She loves Senator Lipton. He’s accomplished, charismatic, and a Republican: the total package. But… something about him makes her suspect. She doesn’t know what it is, can’t place it. She had a theory the moment she tried to breastfeed. The breast is no longer a sin once a woman is married, at least for her husband. It is a tool to provide for their child, after all. It is God’s design. So why won’t the father want to be a part of that? Her theory was a thought she pushed back down, one of many.
There’s an open seat next to him. “Let’s get this over with,” she says to him curtley.
Dwight takes another swig, finishing his drink. “So, ready to admit defeat?”
She rolls her eyes. “How many times are you—”
“As many times as it takes!” he shouts, standing up and walking towards the Biohazard waste basket to throw away the glass bottle. “Let’s face the facts: he was conceived a month before the wedding—”
“You’ve said that a hundred times, it doesn’t prove anything!”
“You know what I think?” he posits, “Lipton has something to hide.”
“Are you saying my husband would keep secrets from me?”
“He doesn’t satisfy you. How would you not be satisfied by your husband unless he’s not attracted to you?”
“Excuse me! Why would I marry someone who doesn’t find me suitable for sexual relations?”
“I do,” he states, sitting back down, “but does he?”
He’s right. She knows it. Time to pull the guilt-trip card. “You are not one to talk about keeping secrets, Dwight! You murdered Sprinkles!”
Those three words manage to shut him up. The reason they broke up in the first place, and never even considered the possibility of reconciliation. All over a dead cat. At this point, he’s done arguing.
“Fine. I’ll drop it.”
“Thank you,” she responds.
They were waiting quite a while. He falls asleep, while she gets cold (her lithe figure was to blame) and decides to cover herself with her jacket, and falls asleep on his shoulder. She could never tell him how natural it felt to rest on that shoulder… or the truth. And the doctor was able to play along.
“Mr. Schrute, the results are in; you’re not the father.”
“I told you,” she says incredulously.
He immediately becomes crestfallen. The realization that he has no legacy with the woman he once loved hits him like a train, more so than it should. He wants to cry his disappointment away… but his body has different ideas.
And that’s how Angela Martin left the hospital covered in blue vomit.
Kelly “Erin” Hannon is on cloud nine. Her boyfriend, Andrew Baines Bernard, is now the regional manager of the new and improved Dunder Mifflin. He just left on an “Outdoor-Bound Wilderness Adventure”, to help boost his confidence. She even boasts about how close him and David’s pre-teen son are. (She’s not the best when it comes to context clues.) She is confident in her knowledge that he is the one person she wants to spend the rest of her life with.
She thinks about how much she loves not just Andy but everyone else in the office. She sees them all as like a family, not unlike a certain father figure of hers that departed a year ago. There’s Jim and Dwight, the funny brothers who pick on each other; Pam, the encouraging big sister; Phyllis, the doting grandmother; Stanley, the grumpy grandfather; Meredith, the fun aunt; Kevin, the fun uncle; Angela, the serious aunt; Oscar, the smart uncle; Kelly, her best friend; Ryan, her best friend’s boyfriend; Darryl, the hard-working brother; and Creed, the Creed. Dunder Mifflin Scranton is her new foster home.
She loves them all, because she has so much love to give. But the one person she neglects to give love towards is herself.
Outside of Erin, no one in the office is all that interested in Andy’s return. Of course most of them see him as a friend and great boss, but they’re not clamoring for his return. They’re not dreading it, either.
All except for one Helen Bertram.
Nellie is not liked around the office, and she knows it. Of course everyone would come to Andy’s defense, no matter how inept or annoying they find him to be. She stole his legally protected job with no reason or warning, a job she desperately wanted but was promptly rejected. She’s ambitious and charismatic, but lacks organization; she often says and does the first thing that comes to mind. And these are qualities Andy can easily sniff out. She knows why that is, but didn’t have it in her to tell anyone, much less anyone in this office. And how Andy let her stay as a Special Projects Manager is a miracle in it of itself.
And damn it all she wants to be a mother.
But she’s met someone here who is a mother. A beautiful mother of two who had shown her kindness and understanding in the past. She can become her friend. She can become someone she can confide in, to gossip with, to just… bond with. Naturally, her husband is not a fan of her, but at the very least she can have that one friend.
The day is relatively mundane. No drama, no hair-brained schemes, no Creed Thoughts. Everyone just sat down and worked.
And then Kelly Rajnigandha Kapoor bursts from the kitchen, carrying various coats. Ravi is now a pediatrics professor at Miami University, and she makes sure that the whole office knows.
“I don’t need ’em anymore!” she proclaims, regarding the various coats, “I am going to Miami, biatches! To hang with LeBron James and Gloria Estefan!”
Everyone just catches the coats she chucks at them. As out-of-left-field and boastful as it is, it’s probably the most thoughtful gift she’s given to her coworkers. The irony is lost on her but not on everyone else.
“I’m so happy for you, Kelly,” Erin tells her with a bright smile.
“Aw, thanks Erin!” Kelly beams, “And hey, text me anytime, you have my number.”
Kelly proceeds to throw her final coat at Erin and runs off.
Everyone gets a coat except for one Ryan Bailey Howard.
Kevin Malone runs over a turtle, and tries to save its life. No one has the heart to tell him it’s dead.
James Duncan Halpert, proud father of two, is married to the most wonderful woman in the world, Pamela Morgan Beesly-Halpert.
Ever since they met at his first day of work, he was immediately smitten. Unfortunately, Roy was in the picture, and was more than protective of her. And, looking back, he never hated Roy. He hated how Roy treated her, but no longer him as a person. In hindsight, Roy had every reason to be pissed: Jim confesses his love to Roy’s own fiancé and then kisses her, leading to them splitting up, and then ups and leaves her the moment she says no. He would have felt just as strongly the moment Roy found out about Casino Night, though wouldn’t be as violent about it (thank God for Dwight’s pepper spray). He also led Karen on, crushing both of their hearts in the process. Karen is now Facebook friends with both and they are on Christmas card terms so all of that is water under the bridge. But he’s not proud of how he handled it.
That was all in the past, though. Waaaay in the past. There’s no need to dwell on what happened then. What matters is now.
“Dunder Mifflin, this is Erin,” the receptionist answers. She looks over at Jim.
“Hm?” he asks.
“A ‘Mark’ wants to speak to you.”
He recognizes the name, and actually gets excited.
“Send him through.”
She smiles and enthusiastically does so.
Mark and Jim were always close. They were best friends in college, and it was easy to see why. They loved sports and grilled cheeses, a modest but strong ignition for a friendship. He recalls the two of them coming up with an amazing idea for a company, though he couldn’t place what it entailed or what it was even called. Pam would often visit the apartment after she and Jim started dating, the two of them starting a repertoire of their own. Even after he left the apartment and moved in with Pam, they still talked. But, shortly after Cece was born, they just… drifted apart. There was no falling out, per se, but life just happened and they didn’t talk as much.
But after the monotony of his everyday job, it’s refreshing to have a change of pace.
“Jim! How’s it been?”
“Oh you know, same old.”
“How’s Pam? And the kids?”
“Wonderful as always.”
“Hey!” Dwight interrupts, “This is a place of business, Jim, not a sports bar.”
“Hold on one sec,” Jim says to Mark, and then turns his attention to Dwight, “And how do you know that this isn’t a potential customer?”
Dwight pauses. “Touché.” He goes right back to work.
“Was that him again?”
“Wow, Dunder Mifflin. Still? After all these years?”
“Yeah, not glamorous, but could be worse.”
“Well, I have something big to tell you. And I want you to be a part of it…”
A few minutes later, Jim grabs his lunch, a tuna fish sandwich (thankfully Andy still hasn’t returned), and sits right across from Ryan Howard. And not the good one, either. The good one would never wear that hipster getup.
“So, how have you been?” Ryan asked.
“Eh, can’t complain.” He suddenly notices a paper he’s signing. “What’s that?”
“My letter of resignation.”
“Really?” Jim asked curiously, “You’re leaving?”
“Yup, moving to Ohio.”
He recalls Kelly’s grand departure. “Ohio, huh?”
“Mm-hmm. I’ve done a lot of market research and it turns out that southwest Ohio is gonna be the next Silicon Valley.”
“Hm,” Jim nods, not buying a word.
“They call it the Silicon Prairie, it’s a big college town.”
Ryan senses his condescension. “So, any big plans for you?”
“Well, Phillip has just started teething, so that’s gonna be a wild ride.”
“Hm, I’m sure,” Ryan replies snidely.
Jim’s getting tired of him already. “And there’s… no other motive for moving to southwest Ohio?”
“Are you sure?”
“The only motive I have is becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg.”
“You tried that twice, and it failed both times,” Jim mentions proudly eating his tuna.
Ryan’s face sobers, while Jim remains confident.
“Answer me this Jim,” Ryan asks, “do you really wanna be a paper salesman your whole life?”
“Ideally, no,” he answers, “but I have a family to provide for.”
“And you’re completely content with where you are, right now? Wouldn’t change a thing?”
He leans forward, making sure Ryan’s paying close attention. “Yes, I’m very happy. You don’t have to worry about me competing with you in Silicon Valley.”
“To each their own,” Ryan concedes as he heads to the annex.
Jim’s now lost in thought. For once, the twerp has a point.
He finishes his sandwich then heads to the break-room, where he finds Pam, Oscar and Toby; their Finer Things Club session has just ended.
Much like her husband, Pam is happier than she’s ever been. Despite her failing art school, she still loves to paint awesome murals, especially for her kids. She’s most proud of the one in Cece’s room. And although she’s the modest type, the way Jim lights up and compliments her work, no matter what it is or its quality… it still makes her heart melt. There was once a time where Pam’s demure personality hindered her, trapped her into stagnation. She would never pursue what made her happy, always afraid of how it would affect Roy. That was it about Jim: no matter what she tried to pursue, no matter how many times she failed, no matter the insane circumstances he put up with that led to “Michael Scott’s Paper Company”, he’s there and he’s gung-ho about it.
But now… stagnation is not such a bad thing anymore. She’s comfortable. She has everything she’s ever dreamed of. The ultimate love story. PB&J. Cinderella and Prince Charming, as Cece often likes to call them. So why risk it? Why put a wrench into what’s working? There was a time that “Fancy New Beesly” needed to be around. But that time has ended. Mama Beesly is here to stay.
“Hey!” Pam greets.
“Hey yourself.” They give each other a cordial peck on the lips as he sits down.
“So what’s new?”
“You’ll never guess who called me.”
Pam smiled, “Oh my gosh, how is he?”
“He’s great! He moved to Philadelphia and has started his own company. Well…”
“It’s technically ‘our’ new company in that we both came up with the idea.”
She was curious. “How so?”
“Remember when he mentioned an idea we both came up with during our college days for a sports-marketing firm but the athletes are partners?”
“Oh,” she tried remembering the name, “Athleap?”
“Athlead,” he clarifies, “But yeah, apparently he wants me to become a partner as well.”
She knows where this is going. “Do you… think you’re gonna do it?”
“I mean, it’s worth a shot, right?” he asks.
She wants him to do it. But he can’t. She knows why he can’t, and he knows why, too. Nevertheless, she let him down gently.
“Listen, Jim,” she starts, grabbing his hands with her own, “I love you. And I want you to be happy, both at home and at work.”
“Right.” He immediately knows where this was going.
“But… with all the factors we have to contend with for this to work, it’d… it’d be far too much. Especially for the kids. And you know that, right?”
“I do,” he concedes, “I figured it just wouldn’t hurt to ask.”
She can read his disappointment. “I’m so sorry, sweetie.”
“Hey,” he assures her, “I know where my priorities lie. And they’re not in Athlead.”
She beams at him. She loves how understanding he is. “Thank you.”
“No thanks necessary.” He kisses her temple. “Now let’s get back to work before Dwight threatens to dock our pay yet again.”
Meanwhile, Toby sits at his desk like always, letting David know that there are now two open positions in Scranton instead of one.
Kelly and Ravi have everything packed to move to their new home.
“Ready, babe?” Kelly asks with a smile.
“As I’ll ever be,” he smiles back.
She suddenly checks the GPS. “Wait… this says we’re going to Ohio.”
“Yeah, because that’s where we’re going.”
“We’re going to Miami, that’s in Florida.”
“No, we’re going to Miami University which is in Ohio.”
She pauses, suddenly realizing what’s happening.
“ARE YOU F****** KIDDING ME?!”
This is, admittedly, very choppy and kinda rushed, so please pick apart its flaws. I'm having to rewatch Season 9 and other earlier episodes to construct this whole AU, which is time consuming but with my schedule I can hopefully squeeze it in.
NEXT TIME: The new guys arrive, Andy reestablishes his rule, and Jim makes the right choice.