Never Give Up by 3vasectomies
Summary: ABANDONED, WILL EVENTUALLY REPOST UNDER NEW NAME
Jim picks up the phone and dials the number, but as all his mistakes flash before his eyes, he realizes that he can't hurt her again.  Athlead is forever out of his reach.
A Season 9 reimagining
Categories: Jim and Pam, Other, Alternate Universe Characters: Ensemble, Jim/Pam
Genres: Drama, Humor, Hurt/Comfort, Kids/Family, Romance, Status: Abandoned, Workdays
Warnings: Adult language, Other Adult Theme, Possible Triggers
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 21 Completed: No Word count: 85715 Read: 70318 Published: August 20, 2020 Updated: March 26, 2021
Couples Discount by 3vasectomies
Author's Notes:

Finally got "Moving On" done, probably the biggest challenge for this story yet.  I'm proud of some aspects of it, but I always have this habit of thinking my writing won't mesh with the show's canon all that well and leaves a lot to be desired.  Nevertheless, I'm seeing this story through so I hope the readership of this site enjoys this concoction that I've created.

Also, some canon tidbits: Despite this being the Valentine's Day episode (February 14, 2013), it was aired alongside "Vandalism" on February 7.  So I was like forget that, this takes place on February 14, and "Moving On" takes place on February 21.

Enjoy! 

“Dwight may have won the battle, but I will win… the next battle.” — Andy Bernard


After 14 weeks — just over three months — Andy will FINALLY return from his boat trip tomorrow.


Erin is elated of course, but she has other plans before Andy returns.


“Hey!” she whispers from her desk, getting Pete’s attention, “Wanna play hooky today?”


“Oh,” he said with a smile, “maybe.  What do you have in mind?”


“We can do anything you want.”


“I really wanna have fun today, because tomorrow is going to be a nightmare,” Erin explains to Brent, her cheery demeanor suddenly becoming cold and back to cheery, now a bit forced, “Andy’s coming back from his boat trip tomorrow… his stupid, dumb boat trip.  Yeah, he’s been rude, selfish, a big jerk, things will go back to normal after I set him straight, and tell him that he royally messed up.  Bam, Andy!  How do you like me now?... I hope as your girlfriend.”


“Erin says she’s happy that Andy’s coming back, but I’m not sure,” Pete tells Brent, “He’ll be back tomorrow and surprise, today, she wants to do whatever I’d like.”  He thinks back.  “You know, when I was a kid, we had a dog who got real sick and we had to ‘send him to a farm’.  And on his last day, we did everything he loved.”  His name was Darby.  Beagle mix.


Erin grabs out a frisbee, “Wanna play catch in the parking lot?”


Pete is surprised by her choice, “Sure.”


“Great!”  Pete happily says yes… but with a nervous look plastered on his face as he glances at the camera.  They do it, and then it lands under the car; Erin whistles for him to get a stick.  Because of course, she did.  So, after the frisbee gets lost again, he decides to have a little fun by digging through some homeless guy’s stuff, much to Erin’s concern.  She gets the frisbee herself.


Meanwhile, Dwight is preparing his ultimate victory against his old nemesis, Andy Bernard.


He knocks on the Regional Manager’s office door.  “‘Come in,’” he mocks in a Kermit-esque voice as he enters, “Andy, hi!  I just made another huge sale for the company that you manage.  I need you to authorize that expense report and sign off on that contract.  ‘I would be happy to.  It would be my pleasure, Mr. Schrute.  Rick-a-dick-doo, rick-a-dick-dick-dick, rick-a-dick-doo.’”


“I really like Andy these days,” Dwight confesses to Brent, “He’s pretend and he does exactly as I tell him to.  All that will change when real Andy comes back tomorrow.  Unless he comes back as pretend Dwight.  In which case, we’re in for an epic… confusing showdown.”  One for the ages.


The office reflects on their time without Andy… and they miss him just as much as Dwight does, that is to say not at all (except for Meredith, for the reason you’d expect).  They enjoyed having a boss-less period and are sad to see it go, so they decide to celebrate with a bang: making use of Valentine’s Day Couple Discounts at the mini-mall, as suggested by Phyllis.  Nellie makes it official as they pair up: Nellie/Clark, Stanley/Phyllis, Kevin/Angela, and Darryl/Oscar.  Darryl feels awkward about it but acquiesces to appease the latter.  Oscar gives him some pointers, but Darryl wants him to stop talking about it, he says he’s fine with it.


As a majority of the nail salon employees are excited for the return of Angela the ‘tiny, poor lady’, Nellie and Clark get their mani as one of the employees and Nellie makes fun of him for looking feminine.  He suddenly shouts that it’s full price and that Nellie is living a lie.  Turns out, she can’t even be in a pretend relationship!  Darryl and Oscar try to get in, but the owner doesn’t think their relationship works (as she demonstrates with her fingers); Darryl might be straight, but he doesn’t put up with homophobia of any kind.


—————————————————————————————————————————————


Pam attended Jim’s fifth therapy session with him.  As they extrapolated on their relationship’s history, the therapist was floored by their lack of communication skills.  The Athlead discussion lasted two minutes, that’s not a discussion!  So she gave them some new homework: straightforward communication.  If there’s something that’s bothering them, or that they feel is going to impact their relationship, even in the most insignificant of ways, air it out and let the other know, calm and collected.  The moment they do that, the healthier and happier their relationship will become.


A few days later, she’s awaiting her Valentine’s Day dinner with Jim.  As she sits on her desk, she makes sure to get the most vital piece of their meal.


“Psst.  Hey,” she leans towards Dwight to get his attention, “Did you get the stuff?” she whispers.


“Oh,” he responds with a smile and confident nod, “I got the stuff.”


“Bring it,” she says, gesturing to him to give it to her.


He hands her a bottle of red wine across the table, “Freshly brewed.”


“Yes, thank you!” she exclaims with an elated smile.


“Don’t thank me,” Dwight says happily as he looks towards the camera, “Thank the beets.”


“Schrute’s Beet Wine,” he advertises to Brent, “Made with all-natural ingredients, and home-grown beets from the most fertile soil and finest manure.”  He kisses the bottle.


Before Andy’s impromptu arrival, she calls Jim in the kitchen.


“You got chocolates?”


“Yup,” Jim answers, “Didn’t have Russel Stovers but I did manage to snag some Lindor truffles.”


“And that is why I married you,” Pam says happily, “Oh, and Dwight got us a bottle of his beet wine.”


“Yes!”


She chuckles, “Oh, and I made us a lunch reservation at State Street Grill.” 


Oh my God, thats so romantic.” 


“It’s with Brian and Alyssa,” she adds.


“Oh, my God. Thats less romantic,” he jokes, but she can tell he’s not into it.


“I know,” she gently presses, “But we should go.  We need to thank him for, you know, what happened last week.” 


“Yeah, yeah.  No, totally.”


Jim doesn’t know why he’s not looking forward to meeting his friends.  Part of him just feels guilty for not being at the warehouse to fight for her, while another part is kinda annoyed at Pam for not telling him about it.  Dwight told him before she did.  If she did, she knows he would have been the first one there to defend her against that a-hole.  He knows that’s the last thing she wanted to happen because all she’s focused on is his recovery, so that’s why he bit his tongue.  Besides, he feels it’s not even worth bringing up, so he just shrugs it off and just enjoys every moment he has with her.  So much for airing things out.


“I’m very excited to see Brian,” Jim tells the camera in the Outback, “Brian’s a great guy.  And Pam and I have gotten really close to he and his wife, Alyssa over the years, and…” he shrugs, “he got fired for protecting my wife from a jerk in the warehouse?”  He’s still lamenting over this.  “I’m sorry, but you know him.  He’s a good guy.”


As they walk into the restaurant, Pam tries to grab Jim’s hand, which he gladly reciprocates after being lost in thought for a sec.  They greet Brian, who greets them and the crew, as they sit down.  After Brian makes a joke about his no-carb diet, he thanks the couple for coming.


“Are you kidding?” Jim asks, “Thank you, man.  I mean, I’ve wanted the opportunity to say thanks for... everything.  And I’m really sorry about the job.  That just seems crazy.”


“It’s fine,” Brian replies, “What are you gonna do, you know?”


“Yeah, but I just wished there was something I could’ve done to prevent it.”  Pam takes notice of his downtrodden tone.


“Eh, I’ll live.  But, if you guys know of any work, I’m fully available.”


“Well, my dad can’t hear a thing,” Pam jokes, “You could boom his whole life for him.” 


“That’s... Okay, great.  Does he pay well?”


After a small chuckle, Pam asks “Where’s Alyssa?”


“Uh, yeah,” Brian awkwardly begins, “Um, you know, Alyssa’s, she’s not gonna make it today.”


“Oh.”


“Actually, we’re not gonna make it,” he says almost too casually, “Um... we’re splitting up.”


The Halperts are crushed.  He and Alyssa were soulmates.  They were at their wedding!  How could this have happened?


What happened… was Pam.  That’s not what he said, of course, it was called a “huge fight”, one that could have easily split Jim and Pam up if he didn’t get help.  Brian, like the rest of the crew, knows that audiences will fall for Pam, and he couldn’t help but be drawn to her as well.  It’s not love love, nothing like how Jim feels about her.  But… he was there when Jim came back with Karen, when she went to Pratt, and when Michael Scott Paper Company was somehow a thing.  He got to know this woman for so many years and see her evolve into the wonderful person she ended up becoming.  And the way Jim treated her that night, it struck a nerve.  More than it should have.


He’ll always love Alyssa, she was always the one.  Always will be.  But she doesn’t think he feels that way anymore.  And she has good reason to believe that.


“We were telling two different versions of the same story,” Brian explains, “And then, everything just went numb.”


“Well, I mean, that’s okay,” Jim reassures, “It doesn’t mean that it’s over, right?  I mean, couples fight.”


“Yeah, that’s the thing,” Brian responds, “When we were fighting, it weirdly felt like the relationship was still alive.  And, it wasn’t until we stopped fighting that, we realized that it was over.  You know, it’s over.”


As Brian gets emotional, Jim and Pam just hold hands underneath the table.  They’re concerned for their friend, realizing that he’s in mourning, and conclude that this could have easily been them.  If he didn’t stop the arguing and apologize, if she didn’t forgive him and be his rock, they’d be another Brian and Alyssa, a perfect couple broken by their lack of communication.  Jim thanks God every day that he took that headset off; the moment they got home that night, he shoved it in a drawer, and he refuses to use it anymore.


“I’m sorry, this is... Oh, my God, okay,” Brian says, regaining his composure, “We have to stop seeing each other like this.  We have to find a different way to communicate other than breaking down in front of each other.”


Jim begins to feel extremely uncomfortable with that statement, remembering Brian was there recording that night.  Pam soldiers on, tightening the grip of his hand with hers, “I mean, you guys caught us crying all the time, so,” she awkwardly responds.


Jim feels like he needs to breathe, “Um, I-I’m gonna go wash up,” he says as nonchalantly as possible.


“Oh, okay,” Pam responds, feeling just as on edge.


Brian nods as he walks off, and then looks at Pam, who just feels awkward, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean—”


“It’s fine,” she says with a smile, waving it off, “You’re going through a lot right now.”


He sighs, “I’m just glad he’s doing better.”


“Oh yeah,” she smiles with pride, “He’s gotten a lot better.  He’s been more patient and spending more time with the kids, and…”


“That’s great,” he says genuinely, “I dunno, I just didn’t expect him to be that angry.  We both know he’s not that kinda guy.”


And he’s right, Jim isn’t.  But… why even bring that up?  While Jim’s out of earshot, no less?  He’s going to therapy, he’s happier than he’s been in months, he’s conveying his emotions better.  This is a Valentine’s Day outing, not an intervention.  She wants to grab Jim from the restroom by the arm and bolt, but she has to be there for Brian, so she pulls whatever she can just to stop the topic.


“I mean,” she shrugs, “I know I could have handled it better,” she remembers, still wanting to own up to her own mistakes but not sure how yet.


Jim thankfully comes back, grabbing the menu and just wanting to eat and leave.


It’s not 3 minutes after their ride back to the office when Pam pipes up, “You wanna talk?”


He sighs, “After that, I think we need to,” he looks over and smiles lightly, “Ladies first.”


She returns it with a small smile of her own, “You were talking to Brian about being there to prevent him from getting fired.”


Her perception is a blessing and a curse.  He takes a deep, short breath through his nose, wanting to get it out, “It’s just… you told me about the whole warehouse thing after it all happened.  Hell, Dwight told me before you did.”


He said it as politely as possible, but she could still sense the annoyance in his voice.  “Yeah,” she sighs, “I’m sorry, you deserved to know.”


“I just… I feel like I needed to be there.  Kick his ass myself.”  She can tell in his voice he feels frustrated about it but feels better when he smirks.  “Borrow Dwight’s pepper spray maybe?”


She snickers, “Okay, one, you’d still end up getting it in your eyes,” she sobers, “and two, if you got involved then you could have gotten fired.”


He shrugs, “That’s a good point.”  A beat.  “I dunno, Pam, I guess I just… feel like a chump.  Who had to rely on the sound guy to defend his own wife.”


She feels guilty, but she needs him to understand, “I didn’t tell you about the mural because it would’ve stressed you out and the last thing you need is stress,” she sighs, her eyes glassy, “You’ve been doing so good, baby, and I didn’t wanna screw that up.”


Noticing a sniffle, he grabs her hand and rubs her knuckles with his in an attempt to calm her down, “You wanted to protect me.”  She nods.  “You can’t protect me from everything Bees.”


“I’m sure as hell gonna try,” she says, determination and love in her voice.


“You always do,” he responds sweetly, “But you don’t have to walk on eggshells around me.  I’m still Jim.”


“You are.  I just appreciate you for letting me in.”


His grip on her hand tightens, “I’m sorry for not telling you how I felt,” he apologizes, “I needed to, a hell of a lot sooner.”


“I’m sorry I didn’t call you when it happened.”


He smiles brightly, “I’m just glad Dwight and Nellie were there as well.”


She chuckles, “They’re the only two insane enough to help me.”


“That’s true,” he pauses and says, “Wow, we really need to do better with this whole communication thing.”


She smiles, “Hey, it’s a start.”


With a smile of his own, he brings her hand up to his lips and kisses it.  “It’s a start.”


After her smile grows, it slowly fades again as she mentions the obvious, “That lunch was… really awkward.  Didn’t you think so?”


“Thank God, it’s not just me,” he admits, “I mean, he mentioned my breakdown in front of us, Pam, during a Valentine’s Day lunch.  I know he’s going through hell right now, but it just… it felt inappropriate, right?”


“I agree.  I think this whole Alyssa situation messed him up.”


“Yeah, I can tell the split’s hitting him hard.”


“Plus…” she pauses, but he deserves to know, “while you were in the restroom, he asked how you were doing, and he brought up the fight saying that you’re ‘not that kinda guy’.”


He raises his eyebrow, “What?” he asks, “Why did he say that to only you?”


“I dunno, it just… put me on edge,” she’s feeling more and more upset as she continues, “I told him I could have handled it better—”


“Don’t put any of that on yourself,” he interrupts, “That was all me.  You… you saved me that night.”


She wants to cry but instead smiles as she brings his hand over to her and kisses it.  “I honestly wanna forget that lunch ever happened.”


“Me too, all I wanna focus on is Valentine’s Day dinner.”


“You’re right,” she says, “The only thing we need to worry about tonight is beet wine.”


He nods happily, “Beet wine.”  They briefly look at each other as they chuckle.


She suddenly gets a text.  “Oh, it’s Nell.  Andy’s back.”


“Good for him.”


She continues reading, being angrily stunned, and just says “Oh, that motherf*****!”  Jim’s eyes widen and lip purse at his wife’s sudden outburst.


—————————————————————————————————————————————


As Dwight continues to mock Andy in his own office, he makes a grand entrance… looking like he just came back from a Jimmy Buffet performance at Woodstock.


“You’re back,” Dwight says, stunned, “...and you’re disgusting.”


As the other employees slink back into the office, they notice Andy perched on Phyllis’ desk.


“I guess I can cancel my order from Zappos.com because, oh, the loafers have arrived,” Andy lightly jokes.


“Andy!” Erin shouts, elated that he’s finally home.


“Hey!  Sweetheart!” he exclaims as they embrace, “I have missed you so much.”


“Welcome back,” she says happily.


“I have been dreaming of this moment,” he responds, just as happy.


That sentence hits her so much, because she has, too… but it doesn’t feel like it.  “Me too,” she confesses as her face begins to fall, “So much.  I’m so happy.”


“What happened?” Oscar asks, sort of disappointed, “We thought you were coming back tomorrow.”


“Well, Valentine’s surprise for Erin.  Hello?  Super romantic.”  Erin forces a smile, and Pete notices, upset.  Andy gives her two bamboo sticks, and when you clop them together it’s called “Bembe”.  She tries to get into it as he breaks out his güiro and plays with her, Kevin joining in.


“Hey, Burning Man,” Dwight insults, “if it’s not selling out too much, you might want to throw on a tie. David Wallace is gonna be here in an hour.”


Of course, Andy had no idea, “Obviously, that’s why I’m here.  I mean, I came back early to surprise Erin.  Happy Valentine’s Day, sweetheart.”  They embrace once again, Erin looking more and more disheartened.  “But, I’m just saying, I’m also excited about the Wallace meeting.”


“Why?” Clark asks, “Isn't he just coming in to rip you a new one for being gone three months?”


Dwight reassures Clark that Wallace knows… he does know, right?  “I have no idea,” Andy nervously answers Dwight, “I don’t know what he knows or doesn’t know.  But we’ve been in touch the whole time.  I mean, it’s not hard to get high-speed internet in Turks de Caicos, people.  It’s in every Bembe cafe.”


Erin just looks at him, hiding her disdain.  How could he not reply to her responses to his emails?  Was he too “busy”?  Or better yet, take the time to call her because he was “busy”?


“Question,” Andy asks, “Where’s Jim?”


“He and Pam are having their Valentine’s Day lunch.”


“For two hours?” Andy asks, “Really?”


The entire office is now getting infuriated, neglecting the fact that one of his employees has suffered an emotional breakdown.  “So, you’re concerned about peoples’ long absence from their place of work?” Oscar snidely asks Andy.


“If the shoe fits,” he answers, as he plays his güiro.  Erin is fuming on the inside.


Andy’s arrival has brought with it all types of incompetency.  Each realization and failure is more damning than the last, such as:

— Andy losing the White Pages because the price point was not approved by the head office.  Jan Levinson, ever the ball-buster, does not respond well to this and drops Dunder Mifflin.  Dwight tries to remind her that Clark gave her everything, everything, but to no avail.

— Angela revealing to Andy that the branch exceeded its targets over the past quarter.  Despite Jim’s absence and dip in numbers, Clark, Stanley, and Phyllis managed to maintain all of his clients and then some, not to mention Dwight’s ever-stellar performance.  This is the same quarter that Andy’s been gone.

— And Nellie having to talk down Andy from talking to Jim and Pam about their attendance because Jim’s halfway through his medical leave due to job-related stress, and that Nellie assumed he already knew that because he was CC’d the entire conversation regarding his leave.  Andy blames it on internet connectivity, and she walks out of his office muttering “arse” to herself.


The entire office is up in arms as they all vent in the break room.  Dwight criticizes the fact that they lost the biggest sale the branch has ever seen, Clark suffering from PTSD once again as a result.  Kevin misses his chunky lemon milk.  Dwight’s tempted to rat him out, but his ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ dynamic with David Wallace (more like ‘Man Who Cried Genetically-Engineered Monster Wolf’).  Nellie doesn’t want to do it after all he’s done for her, and Meredith ain’t no narc.  Pete has to be the one who stops her from listing off what Meredith is besides a narc.


Erin, ever the rock, has to step in and cover for Andy’s misdeeds.  “Guys.  I know that a lot of people are mad at Andy and, believe me, I am too.  But, he has been through a lot and we all love him, right?”


“Oh please,” Angela pipes up, “You’re only defending him because you’re dating him.”


“Exactly,” Dwight adds, “Your bias is showing.  How do we know you two aren’t in cahoots?”


“Hey hey,” Peter chastises, coming to Erin’s aid, “You leave her out of this, alright?  None of this is on her.  If he’s gonna get in trouble, just let it be his fault, not ours.”


She realizes that she’s back to the same position she was in before she left: having to constantly be there for him, lift him, and defend his foolish, unjustifiable, and heinous actions.  She thought things would go back to normal… she’s slowly realizing they are.  This is normal.  And now, she’s caught in the middle of her boyfriend and her office family.  She wants to cry.


“Fine!” Dwight scoffs, “The state he’s in, Wallace will take one look at him and probably fire him anyway.”


… And then Andy comes into the break room, cleanly shaven, in a nice suit, as he snaps his fingers at everyone to get back to work.  Dwight is not pleased.


Later, Andy starts a conference room meeting, with most of the office in there… excluding Pam.


“I need you guys to tell me all the highlights from the last three months in case David asks.  Just a few things I could sprinkle into conversation…  Any big sales or office gossip.”


“Jim’s halfway through his medical leave,” Nellie adds.


“Yes, you mentioned that,” he responds, “Where’s Pam?”


“Oh, she’s at her desk,” Erin casually replies.  The camera pans over to Pam, angrily working away.


Andy pokes his head out to greet her.  “Heyyy, Mama Tuna!”


“DON’T TALK TO ME.”


“Okay!” he says as he slinks back into the office, “Anything else?”


“Well, we had the Scranton White Pages,” Dwight snidely mentions.


Andy sighs, “Come on, guys!  Let’s stay positive, people.  Okay?”


And in walks David himself, who couldn’t be happier with the numbers.  Dwight just cringes in response.  Andy asks what was happening with the warehouse that Wallace has to address.  Andy is informed that Frank got fired, not for the mural, but for burning the entire warehouse down.  The cameras manage to catch Pam chuckling at that exchange.  Phyllis mentions that they started selling balloons, and Clark brought up a topless Kathy Ireland.  Clark still wants to punch him out after the White Pages.


Naturally, Wallace does not buy any of Andy’s coworker’s lies as he says them… but he catches on quickly, managing to cover himself.  After David walks out, he becomes disheartened by his coworkers, getting a taste of how they’ve felt for months.


Erin walks in and tries to get to the point because this needs to be addressed.  “Fish sounds great,” she starts, addressing his güiro.


“Yeah, I guess,” he replies sadly.


She has to ease him into it, “Really playing the scales, huh?”


“Yeah, it just sort of sounds like noise to me now.  You think I need a new fish?”


“You’ve been a rude, selfish jerk.”


He’s taken aback, “What?”


She sighs, “I still love you, but you were gone a really long time.  And, you never really got in touch with me all that much.  You retweeted me, a lot to be fair.  But…” she sighs, “Things aren’t the way they should be.”


“Okay, I get it,” he explains, “You’re unhappy.  I’ve been gone a long time and we lost a little bit of juju.   But, you and me, we have a future.  There is a lot of love here.”  She sighs heavily, wanting to believe him.  “We’re just out of sync right now.”  Were never in sync, though.  “But that’s just timing, it’s timing.  I mean, my parents lasted 38, 40 years.  They were never happy at the same time.”


“I guess,” Erin says flatly.  When will we be happy at the same time?


“I mean, what do we have left?” he continues, “35, maybe 40 years?  If we’re lucky.  I mean, I have spent a lot of time in the sun.”


“You got really sunburned.”


“I’m gonna be a prune in like, 3 years.”  She groans.  “I know you may not be feeling love for me right now but, if we just put all of this behind us, we’ll be right back to where we were.  What do you say?”


She’s upset but optimistic.  “You really think we can get that back?”


“Yes.”  He reaches out to hug her.  “Come on.  Totally.”


She smiles sadly.  She wants this but doesn’t know how this will work… or if it will at all.


—————————————————————————————————————————————


As Pete is wiping snow from the rear window of his car, Pam greets Jim who’s leaning against the back of the Outback.


She walks up to him and notices a brown bag.  “What’s this?”


“Happy Valentine’s Day,” he responds, “Sorry, I didn’t have time to wrap it.”


She opens it to find one of her sketches she drew back while she was in Pratt, framed.  “Wow,” she says, genuinely surprised, “I didn’t know you kept this.”


“Yeah, I did.”


Getting misty-eyed, she hugs him, “Thank you.”


“No problem,” he replies, hugging her back.  Whatever awkwardness happened earlier today melts away for the both of them.  Things aren’t 100%, but they don’t need to be right now.  They’re here to stay.  And they’re here to fight.


When they get home, a lovely Valentine’s Day dinner and a very nice evening ensue.


Meanwhile, Erin walks up to Pete, “Thank you, for what you said earlier.”


“Oh, of course,” Pete responds politely.


She needs to ask him, “I… I want to not be mad at Andy, but I don’t think he understands everything I’ve been through while he was gone.”


She looks so damn downtrodden.  “Does he know?” he asks.


“I tried to get through to him but,” she shakes her head, “knowing what’s been going on with his family…”


“I know you don’t want to hurt him,” he explains, “but you should be honest with him.  Tell him how you really feel.  Then he’ll understand.”


A realization hits as she wraps her arms around Pete, him not knowing how to react.  She pulls away and holds his upper arms, wearing the first genuine smile she’s had all day.  “Thank you.”


He can’t help but smile back, “Happy to help.”


With newfound vigor, she storms up the stairs of the complex and back into the office, ready to fully confront Andy as she bursts into his office.  She’s become a volcano, ready to burst.


“Three months, Andy Bernard,” she begins, “THREE MONTHS, you were gone having fun in the Caribbean, and I’ve been left here, missing you like crazy!  You never bothered to call or text or anything!”


“Hey Erin, can we—”


“Hey, Andy?  What was that about three months?”  David Wallace is still on speakerphone.


“Erin, I know you’re upset but can we add—”


“No, I’m addressing this now!”


“Yeah, no, lets address this now.”


“Nobody in the office has had the slightest idea of where you were or what were you doing!  You might as well have been dead because you never bothered to get in touch with any of them!”


“Is that right?”


Andy flounders like the fish he caught and ate.  “Erin, I—”


“Jim had a mental breakdown, Andy, how did you not know that?!  Pam got in touch with you, too!  Did it not cross your mind to check your email, especially considering you had constant WiFi access?!”


“Constant, huh?”


“We all had to work our butts off while you were gone, and I’m sorry Andy, I really am, but…” it’s taking everything in her not to cry, “I’m tired, Andy, I’m so tired.”


The realization is hitting him like a train.  This isn’t the Erin he knows, and he’s making her this way.  “Erin, I…” he says softly, “I know I’ve messed up, but I promise you, I will do everything to make this up to you, the office, everyone.”


His voice is sincere.  She knows he’ll keep to his word.  But words can only do so much.  For his sake, he better follow through.


Her face becomes stern and unyielding, “I love you, Andy Bernard,” she says pointing at him, “but you are on the thinnest of ice.”  He’s still stunned and silent.  She meekly says “I’ll be in the car,” about to cry her eyes out as she walks out of the office.


There’s a pause before Andy addresses David once again, “Sorry you had to hear that,” he says through an awkward chuckle.


“Yeah, were gonna have a long talk tomorrow.”  *click*

 

End Notes:

I was surprised how true to canon this ended up being.

The biggest thing is Erin, her staying with Andy rather than dumping him.  In canon, it was Erin herself that said Andy should just let Andy be in trouble because it's his fault; part of me didn't like giving that line to Pete because it kinda makes him come off as a white knight, but I knew at this point Erin isn't that confident yet and would still stick up for Andy, hence why others would accuse her of being on his side.  I also turned down Andy's douche meter only a bit to make him more sympathetic, and turned it waaaaay the hell down in the next chapter.  My favorite part of this was the conversation between Erin, Andy, and Wallace; I always imagined what would happen if she argued with Andy more and Wallace heard the whole thing.

Then there's the JAM plot.  Much different but much of the same.  I still wanted them to have a conflict, but I wanted them to healthily work it out instead of resorting to fighting (though I did throw a nod to that since I love the quote).  And Brian... he's pretty much the same as he was in-canon, but I framed the scene differently; beyond the conflict exclusive to JAM, the canon lunch felt so damn awkward to watch and that was 100% because of Brian.  I wanted to heighten that, especially with the breaking down line.  Like I wrote, I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt because of Alyssa, but there was just so much there that felt inappropriate to say.

As for Pam's treatment of Andy?  Eh, a bit harsh, but knowing Pam as a character that would totally be her reaction. 

NEXT TIME: Andy gets a rude awakening, Erin and Pete learn from their pasts, Toby confronts his biggest demon, Dwight and Angela accept the inevitable, Jim reevaluates his hopes and desires, and Pam makes a choice for her family.  All of them are moving on... 

This story archived at http://mtt.just-once.net/fanfiction/viewstory.php?sid=5858