Every Day's A Holiday (When Your Lips Meet Mine) by darjeelingandcoke
Summary:

Every holiday is important to someone. Even Joe Biden's birthday. No, *especially* Joe Biden's birthday.

(A series of mini-fics set on holidays major and minor in the life of Jim, Pam and the Dunder Mifflin crew. Blame Max for this.)
Categories: Jim and Pam, Present, Episode Related Characters: Andy, Angela, Cece Halpert, Creed, David Wallace, Dwight, Dwight/Angela, Ensemble, Erin, Isabel Poreba, Jim, Jim/Katy, Jim/Pam, Katy, Kelly, Kevin, Meredith, Michael, Oscar, Other, Pam, Phyllis, Ryan, Stanley, Toby
Genres: Angst, Drama, Fluff, Holiday, Humor, Inner Monologue, Romance, Workdays
Warnings: No Warnings Apply
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 7 Completed: No Word count: 17528 Read: 3944 Published: April 12, 2021 Updated: December 11, 2021
Story Notes:
So this will be a collection of probably mostly pretty short fics based on Jim and Pam and company celebrating (or not celebrating) various holidays. Some real, some less real, some almost entirely sprung from the mind of Michael Scott.

I was forced to write this through a peer pressure campaign led by Maxine Abbott (particularly once I realized we had actually had this conversation before in the reviews section), and a number of these will be based off the holidays identified in the final chapter of New Year’s in New Jersey. So if you’re mad, blame her and Agian18, who reminded us all that it was Grilled Cheese Day.

Title is based on a Styx lyric. Fight me.

DISCLAIMER: “It's performance review day, company-wide. Last year, my performance review started with Michael asking me what my hopes and dreams were, and it ended with him explaining to me that we are all publicly recognizable characters in a publicly recognizable setting that is the property of our actual owners, and the authors of any fanfic about us aren’t in any way associated with those owners or the owners, creators or producers of any media franchise, and don’t intend any copyright infringement. (beat). So, I don't really know what to expect.”

1. National Grilled Cheese Day (April 12, 2008) by darjeelingandcoke

2. National Jelly Bean Day (April 22, 2006) by darjeelingandcoke

3. Pretzel Day (April 26, 2005) by darjeelingandcoke

4. 05-05-05 (May 5, 2005) by darjeelingandcoke

5. Casino Night (May 11-12, 2006) by darjeelingandcoke

6. National IT Professionals Day (September 21) by darjeelingandcoke

7. Joe Biden’s Birthday (November 20, 2008) by darjeelingandcoke

National Grilled Cheese Day (April 12, 2008) by darjeelingandcoke
Author's Notes:
I did not have a grilled cheese for lunch today. I should have.

We open with a quick scan of the front of the bullpen, where everyone is stationed at their desks and working away. The SALES TEAM is on the phone with clients. OSCAR crosses to MICHAEL’s office with paperwork. We land on PAM at the reception desk, writing something on a pink message slip.

We hold on PAM a beat. She looks up and politely smiles at the camera, then returns to whatever she’s writing.

We continue to hold on PAM, who eventually looks again and is a little startled to find them still there.

PAM (perturbed):
What?

We cut to the conference room for a talking head.

PAM (in recognition):
Ohhhhh. Yes, actually, I have heard of it!

Quick cut to suggest a question was edited out. PAM rolls her eyes.

PAM (bemused):
No. Believe it or not, Jim refuses to observe. (beat) He’s a conscientious objector. (beat) To National Grilled Cheese Day.

We cut to the conference room again, this time for a talking head with JIM, who is giving a perfectly wiseass JIM smile.

JIM:
I just think it’s become very commercialized, you know. (faux serious) People have forgotten the true meaning of the holiday.

His eyes open a little wider and the corners of his mouth fall, just a touch. He is clearly making direct eye contact with the producer. His pretend solemnity has become… genuinely a little solemn.

JIM:
It’s not just about Kraft and Pepperidge Farm padding their profits and doing cute little contests. It’s about what a grilled cheese means. I mean, it’s the first hot meal a lot of kids can make for themselves. It’s a sign of maturity, a milestone on the way to adulthood.

JIM has grown fiercer as he’s continued his speech. He’s now impassioned now, calling to mind nothing so much as DWIGHT’s Mussolini impression.

JIM:
It’s the sandwich you make with your brothers over the barbecue in the summer, with your buddies when you’re camping and none of you really know how to make anything over the fire.

His face and his voice soften.

JIM:
It’s the sandwich you make for your first date when you don’t think she’s ready to admit it’s a date. (He looks away from the producer, off into the distance, thoughtful.) It’s family and friends, you know? It’s… memory.

JIM remembers himself and shakes it off.

JIM:
So, no. Pam wasn’t kidding.

JIM sighs a little.

JIM (all business):
So is that all you need?

A pause as someone without a microphone indicates yes.

JIM:
Great.

JIM rises and exits the conference room. The camera follows him to his desk… where he finds something wrapped in a very greasy paper towel by his mouse pad.

He looks confused, and unwraps it to find a very delicious looking grilled cheese sandwich. He’s now part-confused, part-pleased. He picks up a small pink message slip from right next to where the sandwich was, and reads it.

His confusion fades, and he smiles like he’s just won the lottery. Or perhaps read a love letter from the love of his life.

He glances towards RECEPTION. The camera follows his gaze to PAM, whose head is tilted and is grinning right back at him. She giggles a little.

They continue to stare into each other’s eyes. JIM, with an ostentatious flourish and without looking away, folds the note and puts it into his shirt pocket, right by his heart.

DWIGHT:
Uh. Hello? The phone is ringing. Is no one going to get it? What is the purpose of having a receptionist if she’s just going to make goo-goo eyes at her shaggy-haired hippie boyfriend all day? You’re distracting Jim from sales! Or you would be if Jim ever made any sales.

DWIGHT continues to rant. As far as JIM and PAM are concerned, he might as well be on another planet.

We cut to the conference room with PAM, who shrugs and smiles sweetly.

PAM:
I never said *I* didn’t celebrate National Grilled Cheese Day. (meaningfully) I really love grilled cheese.

End Notes:
Drop your favorite grilled cheese recipes in the reviews. I am mildly concerned some of you are going to be horrified at the implication that Pam made it in the microwave.
National Jelly Bean Day (April 22, 2006) by darjeelingandcoke
Author's Notes:
As it turns out, April 22, 2006 was actually a Saturday. Also, by coincidence, April 12, 2008 was ALSO a Saturday. So apparently The Office takes place in an alternate universe where days are slightly different and also you can’t lose your job even if you literally give a co-worker a heart attack by pretending the building is on fire. Explains a lot, right?

(Honestly, this could probably use another draft or seven. Or a blowtorch. But if I don't post it now, Lorde knows when I will. The ghost of the tooth mug haunts me, calls my name, beckons me into the darkness. I must escape or perish. So. Hope you enjoy anyways, but if you don't: know that it's not my fault.)
>

Jiiiiiiiim.”

That whisper kills him every time.

Jim looks away from the spreadsheet he’s been staring at for the last 20 minutes, trying to summon the energy to make cold calls while the documentary crew is off chasing Creed and there’s one less thing to distract him, and sees one of his favorite Pams at reception. Barely-Able-To-Contain-Her-Excitement Pam. Her eyes are bright, her smile’s wide, she just radiates warmth and sunshine, and…

…and she crooks a finger at him in a come-hither gesture that he knows full well is meant to be friendly, it’s quick and jaunty and not seductive, her face says “come look at this awesome thing I found on the Internet” not “come on over here and let me have my way with you, stud.” He knows that.

He also knows the image is now tattooed in his brain.

(It’s moments like these Jim’s sure Pam has no idea what she does to him. She’s not cruel, she wouldn’t… whatever she’s doing. All these things, the way she leans into him during interminable conference room meetings, the way she perches on his desk just a little too close to him, the way she holds his gaze a little too long to be appropriate… she’d go out of her way not to do any of that if she knew he wanted her.

Right?)

He goes to her, leans on the reception counter. Even if he wanted to resist, he doubts he could pull it off. He has to see whatever it is that’s put that look on her face. It’s all totally out of his hands. He should be used to the feeling by now

“What seems to be the trouble, Beesly?”

Look,” she says, turning her monitor towards him, and Jim forgets every bit of his angst.

“Oh my GOD.”

“I know!”

“Great find, Beesly!”

“This is the greatest day of my life.”

“How did you even…”

“Penny sent it to me.”

That catches him off guard. “Why would she…”

She cuts him off. “We have to do something.”

“Obviously.”

“I mean…”

“Yeah, this is basically our holiday.”

“Totally. Can you blow off sales?”

Jim puts on a scandalized look. “Of course not, I have that super important meeting with the Central Northeastern Pennsylvania United Public Association of Private…”

Pam rolls her eyes and giggles, smacks his wrist lightly. Then rests her fingers on the back of his hand, just for a moment. And his entire world is reduced to the places where her skin touches his.

(She doesn’t know. She would never touch him like that. Unless…)

“Okay. I just restocked, so we’ve got a full arsenal of jelly beans ready to launch. What are we gonna do with them?”

(Jim freezes, because if he can’t give her this, than what good is he to her? And there are moments when he is not the funnest most super awesome source of entertainment, there are moments when he can’t come up with some new game, there are moments when he just wants to drop the act he always puts on for her and just be honest, be a man and not a playmate, and he’s…

He’s got it.)

“Okay, we’re going to need 20 plastic cups and an excuse to close the blinds in the breakroom.”

***

“Practicing Jim’s sales pitch, and he doesn’t want anyone to steal his trade secrets” turns out not to be the best scheme to hide their vigorous game of jelly bean basketball. Mentioning trade secrets to Dwight was like waving a red cape in front of a bull, although they have a fun hour trying to convince him that throwing jelly beans into plastic cups is just a cover for what they’re really up to.

But their scuffles manage to draw Phyllis and Kevin into the game, then Kelly and Ryan, and pretty soon Pam has convinced Michael that a jelly bean basketball tournament was a great team-building exercise. Then she gets him to send Ryan out for enough jelly beans to feed a small nation. Pam crows that it’ll take even Jim all summer to finish them.

After an over-zealous Dwight throw ends up leaving a perfect jelly bean-shaped bruise on Oscar’s forehead, Jim proposes a switch to jelly bean bowling, which ends up requiring too many judgment calls about whether or not a bean has been moved to work, and Pam finally gets everyone to agree to jelly bean curling. It’s “a sport of champions, people! You roll your jelly beans across the conference room table, like so, attempting to get them as close to the edge as possible without going over the side, and the player with the most jelly beans on the edge after 10 rolls each wins.”

Curling was a “misnomer,” as Dwight explained ad nauseum, driving Jim to organize those watching to make signs declaring the “Jelly Bean Curling World Championships” and tape them all over Dwight’s desk.

Stanley disappears around 4:45, and everyone else starts to drift off at 5:00. Michael hangs in there until 5:30, having the time of his life, before he remembers to his bitter disappointment that he has improv. Pam and Jim politely decline to promise they’ll still be there when he’s done.

They’re playing for the title, and they’re both in it to win it. Pam’s got the finesse to put her beans wherever she wants them, but Jim’s leaned into Meredith’s “purposefully roll into your opponent’s beans to take points off the board” strategy. They’re deadlocked after 25 rounds, after 30, after 40. Their trash talking gets more and more brutal. Jim can’t remember the last time he’d had this much fun.

Finally, on Round #47, a breakthrough. Jim has last roll with a tie score… but it’s zero-zero, he’s been spot on hitting Pam’s point-beans. He can put this game to bed… but he has to ride the edge this time.

“Well, I’m going to limber up for Round #48. No way you’re pulling this off, Halpert.”

“You underestimate me, Beesly. I’ve been lulling you into a false sense of security, and now I’m ready to spring my trap.”

“Oh, I’m sure. Dynamite lulling. I mean, your imitation of a broken man when you had that one pineapple that hung on for like five Mississippis before falling? I was sold.” She grips the edge of the table, staring at the spot where Jim’s fate in Round #43 had been sealed with trepidation and clenched teeth, before letting her jaw drop and her shoulders sag in defeat in what he’s pretty sure was a perfect re-creation of his heartbreak, and sinking into one of the conference room chairs with her hands over her eyes.

“Oh, bravo, bravo,” Jim gives her a sarcastic slow clap. “Encore.”

Pam pops up with a smile on her face and bows. “Thank you, thank you. Please tip your waitresses and stick around for my evening show, where I’ll be playing the title role in ‘Jim Halpert’s Field of Screams.’”

“You really think you’re gonna psyche me out?”

“I don’t need to, Jim. I’ve seen you roll. I would bet you literally anything you’re not landing this one.”

“Really? Anything.”

“Anything.”

And all of a sudden they’re there again.

(He feels like he never sees it coming, how one second they’re them and then out of nowhere they’re them, and the air is heavy and there’s something in his throat and she’s looking at him with those eyes and she’s not smiling so much and she’s breathing a little faster...

He knows, in this moment, that she does know. That she knew exactly why he bought that ticket for June 8th, that she knew exactly why he wouldn’t let go of her hand even after she had gotten the hang of skating again. That she knew that things always seemed a little brighter to him when she walked into the room.

And that she felt it too. She wasn’t cruel, she leaned on his shoulder and invaded his personal space and stared into his eyes because she felt it too, she was just scared to leave Roy behind without a clear sign, and if he just gave it to her…

He could bet a kiss. He could bet a kiss, and right now, in this moment, he knows she’d let him kiss her.

But that’s the problem. He doesn’t know. Anymore than he knew in the parking lot the night they swayed or on that goddamn boat.

In one of those chick lit books Kelly is always going on about while Ryan rolls his eyes and pretends he’s not hanging on every word, he would know. He would be sure, and it would be perfect.

But Jim’s life is not a romantic comedy. He is not Hugh Grant or Colin Firth or whatever stammering, awkward English dude women find charming these days. There is no music swelling to tell him the moment is right. The lighting is the same harsh fluorescent it always is. There’s not even the camera crew there, trying so desperately to not attract attention to themselves he can tell they think something big is happening.

And perhaps most importantly, if he’s wrong, there will be no cut to black. Jim will have to live with the fallout.

They’d never be the same. He’s not sure of much, but he’s sure of that. And he loves her, in this awful, all-consuming, genuinely sort of self-destructive kind of way… but he also likes her, the best friend he’d ever had, the person he’s closer to than he’d ever been with anyone. Can he risk that when it’s not a sure thing?

The odds have always been against him. The idea that Pam was secretly harboring feelings for him, enough that she might leave Roy, while also dragging Roy kicking and screaming to the altar? It just didn’t make sense. And if he says nothing, he can keep what they have, and maybe eventually he’ll learn to live with just that. Maybe. But if he puts himself on the line and fails…

He just wants to know for sure. Before he tries. Is that too much to ask?)

“Okay… loser pays for dinner?”

Pam nods, maybe a little too quickly, maybe like she didn’t trust herself to speak, maybe like she was disappointed… or maybe like she was nervous he was going to try to kiss her and she’s relieved she won’t have to gently let him down, or maybe like she’s hungry and she’s ready for this game to wrap up. He just… can’t tell.

He bends down over the table as Pam crosses the other side. He practices his wind up, once, twice. He looks up to find she has mockingly (maybe?) matched his hunched-over stance and is staring at him. She raises a challenging eyebrow.

He rolls.

And his little blueberry Jelly Belly rattles its way across the conference room table towards her, kisses the edge…

…and holds there.

Game over.

***

Roy had texted mid-afternoon that he was going to Poor Richard’s with the warehouse guys, so they’d planned to do dinner together from the beginning. Not unusual for them on Roy’s nights out. They’ll go somewhere cheap and well-lit where they’ll get served from behind a counter by a bored-looking kid in a paper hat and they’ll sit on hard plastic benches and try to guess what the rowdy gang of teenagers a few tables over is going to get arrested for that night and steal each other’s fries and it’ll still be the romantic highlight of Jim’s year.

Well, now Pam will be paying. So there’s that.

It’s freezing when they get down to the parking lot, and Pam had dressed for the 40-degrees-warmer weather they’d had in the morning, so he tells her to wait and heads off to bring his car around. She doesn’t even bother to try to talk him out of it, so maybe she needs some time alone too. Or maybe she just has no intention of freezing her ass off.

(There are times when he’s almost looking forward to this being over. To knowing it’s over.

He’s not stupid. He doesn’t need a therapist or a roommate or a know-it-all little sister to tell him he’s been frozen in place. There’s possibility, and as long as it exists, he can’t let go of it. Maybe when he gets back from Australia and she’s A… he can finally move on. Just be the friend she deserves, the friend she wants, and maybe start figuring out what he actually wants to do with his life, “like you said you were going to do when you first took this job, remember, Jim?” Yes, Larissa, he remembers.

And since Roy set the date, it’s been… hard. He can feel himself getting impatient, getting mean. He’d actually run to Toby and complained about her wedding planning, who does that?

He’d hurt her a little on Valentine’s Day, and while it hadn’t been the point, he’d kind of liked knowing he could. He wishes he doesn’t know that he’d liked that.

But it also feels like there have been more and more of these moments recently, like in the elevator the day he’d told her about his “crush,” like when she’d hugged him after he nailed the Virtuis Hospital Systems sale, like in the break room when she talked about how her dad had taken her mom on the perfect honeymoon… and it crushes him each time, and he wants it to be done, but it also feels like the universe is maybe giving him a sign. Or, as Larissa insists, like Pam is giving him an opening.

Like he needs to take a chance.

Because after all, what is there to lose? He can’t bring himself to call her Anderson in his head. Does he really think he’s going to be able to braid friendship bracelets with her when she’s someone else’s wife?

Things are going to change. This thing he’s desperate to protect, it’s going to go away.

He wants a guarantee. Something, after all this time, that he can control.

Maybe knowing it’s ending, one way or the other, is the only guarantee he’s going to get.)

Pretzel Day (April 26, 2005) by darjeelingandcoke
Author's Notes:
Confusingly, the canonical Pretzel Day is in mid-October. What’s up with that, Billy? Also, when I first wrote the shoes-in-the-microwave prank, it was in a story called Real Friends, which takes place well before the arrival of the cameras, and the second time I wrote it in They Can’t All Be Winners I set it in late Season 2. Also also, I feel like in canon Pam and Jim would have convinced someone else (Dwight? Ryan, via Michael?) to do this for them. Also also also, Belsnickel isn’t real, it’s just Dwight.

Also also also also, in addition to finally answering the question of how Jim and Pam make up with Stanley after the microwave prank, which I’m sure all of you have been dying to know, there are three references to two fics here that I did *not* write. See if you can spot them.

We open in the front of the BULLPEN. We scan from MICHAEL’S OFFICE, where the door’s closed and he is visible through the blinds talking animatedly on speaker phone, to the DESK CLUSTERS, where DWIGHT and PHYLLIS are hard at work, to RECEPTION, where we find… JIM????

The phone rings, and Jim picks up.

JIM: Dunder Mifflin, this is Sam. (listens) Yes, I can connect you, let me put you on hold for just… one… second. (Jim holds the phone against his head with his shoulder, presses a button, and holds the receiver back to his ear… and winces as he hears the voice again.) Yes, sorry, one sec.

Jim tucks the phone back into his neck, and tries another button. He puts his ear back to the receiver, and sighs in relief. He then pokes at the handset a few more times, until the phone rings…

…at PHYLLIS’ desk.

The camera zooms in on JIM, who gulps.

We return to PHYLLIS, who picks up.

PHYLLIS (professionally):
Phyllis Lapin. (pause) No, I’m sorry, you’ve got the wrong extension. (She shoots Jim a baleful look.) Dwight is at 5332, I’ll connect you.

DWIGHT’s head snaps up at the mention of his name, and as PHYLLIS starts to transfer the call, he slaps his hands on his desk.

DWIGHT:
*Dammit*, Jim!

We return to JIM, who actually seems a little embarrassed. He gives the camera a chagrined shrug, as we…

…cut to PAM, doing a talking head while in line in the LOBBY of the SCRANTON BUSINESS PARK.

PAM:
Once a year, they bring in a little cart and they give away free pretzels. It’s really not a big deal.

We hear a scoff from behind her, and the camera turns to LEO, one of the dirtbag deliverymen from VANCE REFRIGERATION. (Where BOB VANCE works.)

LEO:
(to Pam) Really? Pretzel Day’s not a big deal? Pretzel Day???

He scoffs again, and looks straight to camera, shaking his head. Can you believe this chick?

PAM (smiles politely at LEO and turns back to the camera):
To some people it is. (beat) And I don’t know if you remember, but about two weeks ago…

We cut to a clip package from They Can’t All Be Winners: DWIGHT running out of MICHAEL’s office with the shoebox as MICHAEL shouts; DWIGHT running by JIM and PAM as they snicker at the prank in progress; DWIGHT shoving STANLEY out of the way in the KITCHEN and spilling some of his lunch; DWIGHT awkwardly tossing the shoes in the microwave by waving the bottom of the shoe box at it; MICHAEL and DWIGHT arguing while JIM and PAM try to direct their attention to whatever is happening in the microwave; DWIGHT blockading the microwave with his body while MICHAEL and JIM try to get past him and STANLEY and PAM shout; DWIGHT retrieving steaming, dripping, misshapen shoes with tongs from the microwave while MICHAEL, JIM, PAM and STANLEY cringe away from the smell, and finally a new shot: DWIGHT tossing the microwave in the dumpster while JIM and PAM watch… and then notice STANLEY glaring at them.

We cut back to PAM, in line, looking remorseful.

PAM:
So we’ve been bringing Stanley lunches from Cugino’s, but we still think he’s mad. (beat, as Pam tilts her head to the side in consideration and looks into the distance for a moment, then looks back to the camera) It’s hard to tell when Stanley’s stopped being mad.

PAM continues her lines in voiceover, as we cut to earlier that morning in the office. STANLEY packs his briefcase, puts on his coat and leaves, a sour nod his only acknowledgement of PAM’s goodbye. Quick cut to later in the day, with everyone looking up at the P.A. speaker in the ceiling as an announcement comes on… and MICHAEL sprints out of his OFFICE and out the door. PAM and JIM exchange a look.

PAM (in voiceover):
And Stanley loves Pretzel Day. If he knew the building decided to do a second one while he was out on sales calls, he’d be crushed. Or as crushed as Stanley gets, anyways. That’s where we come in!

JIM (talking head at RECEPTION):
I can make sales from the reception desk, but even Michael might notice if Pam just flipped voicemail on for no reason. So we decided I’d cover the phones for 10 minutes. (beat) That was an hour and a half ago. (beat as we cut to an annoyed-looking Pam, and pan the line to show there are a large number of people both ahead of her and behind her, and then return to JIM) People really like Pretzel Day.

We flip between the following shots:

-PAM, with her arms crossed, tapping her feet impatiently in line.
-JIM, getting another call, fumblingly transferring it, looking with trepidation at PHYLLIS… and fist-pumping as her phone rings and she picks up. PHYLLIS gives him an approving nod.
-PAM, repeatedly blowing a curl of hair out of her face.
-JIM, drumming his fingers on his desk, looking around, waiting for something to do.
-PAM flagging down a TALL BRUNETTE about her age who is walking away, pretzel in hand, and them chatting for a minute.
-JIM, playing Solitaire on PAM’s computer, getting to the last card, and minimizing the window without winning the game.
-The WOMAN who PAM flagged down approaching her in line and handing her a pad and pen. PAM smiles brightly at her, thanks her, and begins to sketch.
-JIM, spinning around in PAM’s chair.

JIM begins to speak in voiceover over the chair-spinning shot, and we shift to a talking head at RECEPTION as his line continues.

JIM:
You know, I always knew Pam had a lot of time to kill on the days when Michael was behaving himself, but wow. I can feel my brain liquifying. I’m feeling a lot better about never making my own copies now.

JIM’s face falls as he realizes what he’s admitted, but he's saved by the bell as the phone rings.

JIM:
Dunder Mifflin, this is Pete. (listens) Mr. Hudson’s not in right now, could I take a message? (JIM grabs a pen, and writes on a pink message slip.) Okay, he should be out the rest of the day, but I’ll make sure he calls you first thing in the morning, all right? (listens) Great. Thank you for your business!

JIM hangs up, tears the message slip off the pad, and realizes it’s the last one. He looks around RECEPTION and doesn’t see a replacement, then turns around to the desk against the wall and starts opening drawers on the right-hand side, looking for more. He then opens the top drawer on the left-hand side, closes it, opens the next drawer down… then pauses, closes that drawer and starts to reopen the top one, as if he’s noticed something.

PAM (from off-camera):
Uh, can I help you there, Snoopy?

JIM closes the drawer quickly and looks up as PAM enters the shot.

JIM:
Used up your message pad making stuff to throw at Dwight. You get it?

PAM:
I got it!

She proudly displays the pretzel, salted with just a hint of mustard and wrapped in a napkin, with both hands. A sheet of paper dangles from between her pinky and ring fingers.

JIM:
Nice work, Beesly!

They high five, and JIM notices the sheet.

JIM:
What’s that?

PAM:
Oh, nothing. I got bored. Chloe from W.B. Jones loaned me stuff to draw with.

JIM takes the pretzel and the sketch as he stands up. PAM sits back down at her usual station and starts straightening up her desk. JIM looks at the sketch and the camera zooms in on it.

It’s terrific. PAM has captured the sheer enthusiasm and joy of Pretzel Day without losing the underlying sadness of wage slaves lining up for a hot, chewy roll of buttered dough like it’s the highlight of their year.

PAM (teasingly, from off-camera as JIM takes in the sketch):
Jim, you totally messed up my filing system. It’s gonna take me months to get this right again! Oh, but I see you left my Solitaire for me to finish, thank you for that.

JIM looks over to her and opens his mouth to speak, but the phone rings, and PAM holds up a wait-one-minute finger.

PAM:
Dunder Mifflin, this is Pam. (listens) Yes, I’ll transfer you.

She expertly connects the call without looking as TOBY approaches and hands her a fax. PAM takes it, crosses to the machine, and starts punching in numbers.

JIM watches, looking pensive. Everything’s back to normal. Pam is back where she always is… and maybe always will be.

He sighs, crosses to STANLEY’s desk, puts the pretzel in a drawer, adds a quick few lines to the message he took earlier and leaves it on STANLEY’s keyboard. JIM drops his pen, and returns to his own desk, glancing over at PAM as he sits.

We cut to later in the day. The office has emptied out, except for MICHAEL, still visible behind his blinds talking on speaker and clearly in a sugar-high frenzy. We see enough to hope JAN has wine waiting for her at home after what she’s gone through today, then pan to STANLEY, re-entering and crossing to his desk. He picks up and reads the pink message slip, cocks his head curiously, opens his drawer and finds… the pretzel! He holds it up and gazes at it in wonder, like an archaeologist who has just found the hidden treasure they’ve been searching for their entire life. Stanley closes his eyes, breathes deep to take in the smell… and smiles.

As STANLEY sits down to enjoy his treat, the camera operator walks behind RECEPTION in a continuing shot. A hand opens the top drawer of Pam’s filing cabinet on the left side, and we see what JIM might have caught a glimpse of earlier – another sketch, this one a gorgeously rendered pencil drawing of two hands clutched together on top of a desk. PAM has managed to evoke happiness out of that simple image – you can tell from the hands somehow that the people they belong to are laughing.

The smaller hand wears an engagement ring. The larger one does not.

End Notes:
364 days until the next Pretzel Day.


Seriously, this is my third fic to mention the shoes-in-the-microwave prank. What’s with that?
05-05-05 (May 5, 2005) by darjeelingandcoke
Author's Notes:
So earlier today, there was some discussion in the Discord about 05-05-05 fics. And I realized I couldn’t really name one. And I thought to myself, “hey, I’m doing this holiday thing, I’ll just write one, and then I’ll be all like, ‘hey, I couldn’t find one, so I wrote one’ and everyone will be like “OMG DJC THAT’S SO BADASS” and I’ll be all *put sunglasses on.*”

Cut to me ten hours later with my brain melting, ducking emails from my boss. How do you people write so well so fast? How?

Plus side, I learned some things about orcas, which was neat.

Anyhow, please review… and please feel free to review harshly. I feel like I tried to do one too many things here.

(Bonus points: there are five sets of things I have purposefully seeded five of throughout the chapter, and a sixth that probably came in by accident. See if you can spot them.)

Also, it turns out that there IS in fact a good 05-05-05 fic! It's just part of a longer fic - chapter 4 of BigTuna's "the things that made us you and me," which I actually ended up referencing here. Read it!

This is bad.

This is way worse than she thought it was going to be, and she thought it was going to be pretty bad.

Michael has been bouncing off the walls since first thing Monday morning, when he’d charged into the office demanding the Party Planning Committee join him in the conference room “STASAP… sooner than as soon as possible, GOD,” because it was “almost 05-05-05,” and it happens “only once every billion years, Pam, we have to celebrate it.” Since then it seems like every hour he comes up with something new they “absolutely have to have for this party, Pam,” because “it won’t be an 05-05-05 party if there aren’t five different kinds of cake, Pam,” because “it won’t be an 05-05-05 party if there aren’t five different color streamers, Pam,” because “it won’t be an 05-05-05 party if there aren’t five separate stations for party games, PAM,” and Pam has been having trouble whittling down her list to just five different ways she’d like to murder him.

“PAM.” “PAM.” “PAM.” “ONCE EVERY BILLION YEARS, PAM.”PAMMMMMMMMMMMMM.”

She knew something was going to ruin what should have been a nice, quiet week. Dunder Mifflin Scranton is Murphy’s Law in office form, Jim says. It’s very reliable that way.

She’d been in a lousy mood to start with, which hadn’t helped. Between the usual weekend housekeeping and grocery shopping and errands and helping Larry and Dinah move, she hadn’t had a moment to decompress, and she’d been hoping she’d be able to settle in and whine to Jim and hear about his weekend before Monday got going, maybe get an early Cugino’s lunch to celebrate being free of the cameras, and instead she had Michael in her face before she’d even finished the voicemails.

And Angela had been unpleasant even by Angela standards, because she “didn’t have enough time to properly prepare for a once-in-a-billion-years party!”, and Phyllis has been totally cowed as usual, and Jim was apparently taking advantage of the crew being away to sell paper, and she’s just been on edge.

And now this.

Because the party is good. Great, even. It’s the first time they’ve had something like this without the documentary crew in their faces in a while, and everyone is so much more relaxed. Oscar is actually talking for a change, she doesn’t know what’s been up with him the last few weeks, and Oscar is one of her favorites to chat with. Kevin and Creed got deeply involved in a quiet, serious conversation (probably about porn, Pam guesses) right at the start of festivities, and have been huddled by one of the computers ever since, which means less drunken leering at her. Toby has been keeping an eye on Meredith, which means the five different brands of soda are only lightly spiked instead of flammable. Without a crowd to play to, Jim has been going easy on Dwight, and has been patiently listening to him explain why the orca was a terrible choice for a favorite whale instead of messing with him (mildly disappointing, but helpful for party purposes). Even Angela appears guardedly pleased with the results, and isn’t storming around making everyone as miserable as she is.

Michael should be content.

Michael should be calmer.

Michael should not look like a first grader who really, really needs the bathroom pass right this second.

Which means there’s more to come.

Pam just hopes it’s not Todd Packer.

* * *

The thing about Dwight is he’s smart. While Jim would never admit it to anyone, some of his obsessions are even interesting to hear about in small doses. He hadn’t known that orcas (“delphinus gladiat-OR, Jim”) were dolphins or that they only put one hemisphere of their brain to sleep at a time or that there are recognizable orca languages. He could’ve also easily gone the rest of his life not knowing, but Jim has definitely engaged in more boring small talk than this.

If the cameras were still here, he might have needled Dwight a bit, see if he could get a reaction. But his only audience now is Pam, and if he’s going to try this with Katy, he owes it to himself to stop doing stuff for no other reason than because Pam.

Although she does look tense. And the way she keeps checking on Michael, Jim is positive he knows why. And maybe trying something different means trying something other than pulling away from Pam a bit at the beginning of a new relationship, maybe he has to figure out a way to make it work with someone else while she’s still a big part of his life. He doesn’t want her gone, after all. She’s his best friend. He just wants something… different.

He baits Dwight into going to check on Kevin and Creed, which is probably in everyone’s best interest, and makes his way over to her.

Oscar gulps and walks away as he approaches. It must feel as abrupt to Pam as it does to Jim, because her “okay, bye” is definitely Confused Pam.

She smiles at him like he’s made her less nervous simply by coming over, and he can’t help but smile back. He remembers why he tries to put some distance between them when he starts dating, because honestly, how could Katy ever top that ever make him feel like this?

She leans in and his heart stutters, even though he knows she means nothing by it.

“Well, I thought he was better, but…”

“Yeah,” Jim agrees. They’ve been speculating about this for weeks, and they’re no closer to an answer. “I maintain he just doesn’t like being on camera.”

“Yeah, but why not? He’s one of the normal ones.”

“Plus, it doesn’t explain his little escape act there,” Jim gestures his head towards Oscar, who has joined Kelly and Toby in guarding the drinks.

Pam raises her eyebrows in that challenging way he adores. “Maybe he just doesn’t like you.”

He feigns offense. “How could he not like me?”

“You wanna hear the list?” she teases.

He put a hand to his chest in shock. She laughs, and nudges him with her shoulder. It’s totally friendly, and it’s not at all flirtatious, and she’s so close to him. He nudges her back.

“Nice party.”

“Thank you. It’s the five different brands of mild salsa, I think, that put it over the top.”

“Yeah, so Michael really didn’t mean five different spice levels, huh?”

“Nope, five different brands of mild. ‘Because not everyone likes spicy and we have to be inCLUsive, Pam!’” She rolls her eyes dramatically, but he can tell she’s genuinely pissed, and not only about Michael’s poorly-disguised fear of hot salsa.

“You’ve had a fun week with him.”

“I feel like he wasn’t this bad before, right? So he should be back to his normal levels of insanity soon?”

“Yeah. He just needs a minute to adjust.”

Pam gives him a look he can’t quite read. “You’ve been busy. I feel like I haven’t seen you all week.”

“Yeah, well, you’ve been throwing together a party for absolutely no reason, and as you know I am extremely dedicated to my craft.”

She smirks at him. “You’ve been phoning it in since they got here, huh?”

“My numbers are so bad, Pam.” She throws her head back and laughs again, and he wishes he wasn’t so proud of that. “But we couldn’t expose a national television audience to Dwight without taking him down a peg. I was doing a public service!”

“You’re a hero, Jim Halpert. They should name a municipal building after you.” He can see she’s pushed Michael to the back of her mind. He’s done his job. He’s served her well. He’s valuable to her.

“I’m happy they’re gone.”

“I know.”

“I don’t like it when people stare at me. And the wires, and the extra people, and the…” she waves her hand vaguely. “mess.”

He wants to say something comforting, but he’s not sure what could fix this. It’s just… Pam.

“And I feel like I get a case of the dum-dums whenever they’re around, you know?”

“I know.”

She looks at him skeptically. “Yeah, right. You’re a star in the making. Hollywood Halpert.”

“No, I get it!” he protests.

He doesn’t, really. He doesn’t mind being onscreen, at least not when he’s messing with Dwight. And he honestly mostly welcomes the chaos and disruption. He’s very glad they’re through with the project, but it’s got nothing to do with looking silly and everything to do with how uncomfortable Pam is with them here… and with the increasingly loaded questions in his talking heads.

She ignores him. “Plus, I look awful. I’ve been eating my feelings since we delayed the wedding. I’m a horse.”

A boyfriend could say something here, could tell her how sexy she looks, could touch her and make sure she feels it.

A friend could say something here, could tell her she’s beautiful. And could maybe also say something about her fiance and how he always seems to be doing some sort of damage to her feelings.

Jim doesn’t know what he can say. What’s going to reveal too much. What’s fair. What he’s objective about. What’s in her best interest, and what’s he’s only convinced himself is.

“You look fine, Beesly, and I hate to break it to you, but horses are a lot taller than you.”

She smiles at that. He’s distracted her. Job well done again.

“So how was your date?”

Wow. Out of left field.

The date was… good. Better than he’d expected. He’s not sure how much of his motivation in asking Katy out was sending a subtle middle finger to Roy, but he knows it was a lot more than generally leads to a healthy relationship. But she’d been fun. Game. Openly interested, which felt like a gift. She’d had a lot of stories about various other weirdos she’d met in the purse business (shockingly, neither Dwight nor Michael would crack her top five), and they hadn’t run out of stuff to talk about. Which was odd considering they didn’t have much in common. Chemistry, but not a real connection. Nothing like the spark of being known he’d felt from the very beginning with…

“Fine.”

“Good… good.” Pam pauses. Is she waiting for him to go on? Gossip like they’re girlfriends? “Do you think you’re going to see her again?”

“Yeah, I think so.” He knows so. They’re going hiking on Saturday. Her idea. It’s been a long time since he’d dated a girl who liked hiking. So that was something they had in common.

“Great.” She falls silent again. Maybe she’s not actually interested? Perfectly polite thing to ask, after all.

He never knows how to talk to her about this. He’s purposefully kept this part of her life away from her. It’s… uncomfortable. He doesn’t want her thinking about him dating, doesn’t want her setting him up or noticing he can’t keep a girlfriend, doesn’t want to make himself in any way unavailable to her… or see how not jealous she is.

“Hey, so I learned a lot about orcas today.”

“I saw that.”

“I’m a killer whale expert now. For instance: did you know orcas are among the few animals documented to go through menopause?”

“I did not. And kind of didn’t want to.”

Pam jumps a little when Michael bursts out with “OKAYCOULDIHAVEEVERYONESATTENTIONPLEASE.” Jim decides it’s a victory that she’s forgotten him for a minute.

Michael notices the collective confusion without needing it spelled out for him, which is an improvement from the last few weeks. Still, this is clearly a moment he’s been waiting for. “Could I have everyone’s attention, please?”

“I think we all agree that this party is AMAZING. I don’t know if you all know this, but 05-05-05 is a day that only comes around once in a billion years…” Jim finds himself reflexively looking for a camera to smirk at. Pam notices and giggles at him. “…and this is a once in a billion year party! Party Planning Committee, you ladies have outdone yourselves. EVERYONE CLAP!”

They give a nice round of applause. Jim directs his towards Pam, who responds with a mini-curtsey. Angela looks vaguely mollified, if only for a moment.

“But I have an announcement that will make this party even better. Can I have a drumroll please?”

Dwight immediately starts pounding his hands against the conference room windows, in a way that makes Angela and Oscar shout about him breaking the glass.

“Thank you, Dwight. Now the big news issssssss… IHEARDFROMTHEPRODUCERSANDTHEYWANTTOCOMEBACK.”

“English, please, Michael,” Oscar says, and Michael ignores the opportunity for the joke. “I heard from the producers of the documentary! They want to come back in the fall and film us more!”

Jim’s heart sinks. He can’t look at Pam. He instead looks for Toby, who gives him a sour confirming nod.

Toby doesn’t look happy either. No one does.

“Guys, come on! This is great news! They really like me, this might be my big break! I could be a star!” Michael sighs, taking in their lack of enthusiasm for his bright future. “And you know what else this means?”

“You’re gonna work even less than usual?”

“Shut it, Stanley. No, it means they’re gonna sign a new agreement with corporate… and their fees keep getting added to our sales totals! Huh? No branch closing, team! We’re safe!”

Jim can’t help it. He has to check in with her.

He can see this mix of relief and hopelessness playing across her face. He assumes he looks about the same.

He golf claps. She silently, sarcastically cheers in response, and there’s something about the way she drops her left shoulder to add pizzaz that makes Jim fall for her a little harder.

Not good.

* * *

Everyone has gone back to murmuring in little clusters. Michael looks… disappointed. Deeply disappointed. And Pam’s sure she’s going to want to throttle him again in a minute, but she doesn’t like that look on his face. Not when he’s delivered good news – she knows how big a difference the documentary money makes to their numbers.

“I really thought you’d be excited about this.”

She and Jim watch as he turns and leaves the conference room, and they hear his office door not quite slamming behind him a moment later.

Pam sighs. “I should probably go deal with that.”

“Yeah.”

“Well, this sucks.”

“Yeah. At least we get a few months off from them.”

“I guess. And we’re more used to it now? I was a lot more aware of them when they started.”

“Yeah, me too. They started blending into the background after a while.”

“And hey! You know what this means?”

“What?”

“Maybe it’s worth doing the vending machine trick.”

Jim hadn’t considered that. It would be a lot of work, and he’s sure Steve’s asking price would be high. But with the cameras there…

“Yeah. Yeah, I’ll start floating it with Steve, see if he’s into it.”

“And our jobs are safe.”

“I thought we were cheering each other up, Beesly.”

“I don’t have the energy to job search. It’s gonna be summer.”

“Writing cover letters is one of my favorite beach activities.”

She giggles. “Plus, if Roy and I both got laid off, who knows when we’d get married?”

She sees Jim start at that, and decides Michael wasn’t going to get any easier to handle with more time to pout.

“All right. Say good luck, Halpert.”

“Good luck, Halpert,” he chirps back.

She makes an annoyed face because she knows that’s the reaction he’s looking for, and heads out the conference room door.

She pauses to collect herself before she knocks. She needs to get in the right frame of mind.

It turns out it’s not that hard. She’s not thrilled about the cameras, but the branch? Michael’s right, they should be happy about it.

She doesn’t like Michael’s childish antics, or Dwight’s endless eccentricities, or Angela’s judgmental bitchiness, but she can count on them. She doesn’t like Michael turning a quiet week crazy, but she likes knowing it will happen, and that Stanley will never stay a minute past 5:00, and that Meredith will grunt at her instead of saying good morning on Wednesday and Friday and only Wednesday and Friday, because her babysitter is available Tuesdays and Thursdays. She likes seeing Jim walk up to the copy machine, poke at its buttons once, twice, then turn to her and ask for help, every time. She likes knowing when she’s unhappy that Jim will notice and come check on her.

She likes knowing what’s coming. Her mom says she always has, even when she was little. She’s not ready for that to stop.

* * *

He watches her gather herself and knock, grind her jaw at Michael’s plaintive “insistence” she go away, and let herself in. She’ll be out in five or 10 minutes, and Michael will follow, magically recovered and bubbling with plans for how he’s going to wow the cameramen this time and likely accidentally sending Angela flying into a rage, and Pam will be tired but relieved, and he’ll give her a drink and a slice of cheesecake, and she’ll grin and say something like “you think maybe I can get a raise if I convince them I’m the assistant to the assistant to the manager?”

He loves her.

He starts making plans for a third date with Katy. Because that’s what this summer is going to be about, seeing if he can make it work with a ballsy, bubbly, smoking hot woman who’s into him, seeing if he can avoid the moment a few months down the line where she sadly explains to him that he’s a great guy, but she needs someone who is ready to emotionally commit, and she feels like he’s holding back part of himself from her.

Because he can’t go on like this. It’s been two years, and he’s not moving. Something has to change.

End Notes:
So the five things are: five sets of five things for the party, five uses of the word orca, five facts about orca (one of which is outdated), five references to once-in-a-billion-years, and five references to 05-05-05. Bonus points for the five Pams in the fourth paragraph, which may have been intentional but also may have been just luck.

Seriously though: there’s a lot of fic about the post-Casino Night summer, and the post-The Job summer, and the post-Goodbye, Toby summer… I do think there’s room for an epic tale set in the post-Hot Girl Summer, touching on how they act when the cameras aren’t there, Pam’s delayed wedding, the Jim-Katy relationship in depth, the financial state of the company… please write it so I don’t have to, this was very tiring.
Casino Night (May 11-12, 2006) by darjeelingandcoke
Author's Notes:
So this one is a story I’ve had the basics of in my drafts for a while, and the pressing deadline of the 15th anniversary of Casino Night has given me the push I needed to, you know, write it. Little different than my usual style, and it’s gone through a lot of versions since its original conception. Hope you like it, and are able to accept my stretching of the definition of “holiday.” And if you don’t, here’s a picture of a kitten hiding under a hat: https://www.rd.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/GettyImages-145679137-scaled-e1619025176434.jpg.

The clock tells him it’s almost four in the morning, which means Jim’s been sitting here in the dark staring at this stupid box for more than an hour now.

Everything else is finished: he’s called Jan to let her know he’s accepting the transfer and he wants to make the move right away, he’s emailed the landlord Josh recommended and told him he’d take the one-bedroom in Harbor Point sight unseen, he’s cleared out his desk and cleaned up his client files. Now he just needs to throw away the box and send the email he’s drafted to folks in the office, and he’ll be done. Can leave this place behind. (Can avoid the consequences of his actions.)

It shouldn’t be this hard. It’s just… junk.

A few receipts.

Some sketches on old pink message slips.

A little chain of paper dolls holding hands.

A cootie catcher.

A print-out of a high scores list, gleefully labeled “SUCK IT!” in big red letters.

Three yogurt lids paperclipped together, one of them upside down.

Actual, literal trash. All of which Jim’s talked himself into assigning some weird significance to. Perfect symbol for the last three years of his life.

He won’t be mean. He’s… tempted, but he won’t be. He’ll toss it in the annex, somewhere she won’t see it. (Should he bother? It’s not like she’ll care.)

He needs to do it, though. It would defeat the whole goddamn purpose if he doesn’t. Clean break. Fresh start. No more tying himself in knots, obsessing over stupid little moments he has to know – he does know – didn’t matter much to her. No more sacrificing for a relationship he’s the only one in.

It's easy. It’s all conveniently stored in one place. Pick it up, cut through to Toby’s desk, drop it in his garbage can, put something from recycling over it so he won’t see… or hell, just take the damn garbage out himself on his way out the door. Simple.

Instead he keeps staring.

Jim’s at least been able to stop himself from running his hands over it, remembering the specific look or laugh or stuck-out tongue he’s associated with each piece of actual, literal trash. But he can’t get himself to stand up.

If he gets rid of it, that means he’s fleeing to Stamford with practically nothing of Pam. Which is stupid, because he is anyways, which is why he’s throwing it out.

But… without even the little things they’ve touched and shared, without even an artifact of this pocket of the world he pretended was theirs …

He’d be leaving without her.

But he is leaving without her.

Ridiculous, he thinks. Pathetic.

“You’re not pathetic.”

He doesn’t turn to look at her.

There’s no need, after all. He can picture her down to the last detail. How many hundreds of times has he stolen a glance over at Pam behind that desk?

And of course, she’d still be in that blue dress. He’s never going to stop seeing her in that blue dress. God, why did he tell her?

He’d been worried about how she was going to get home, but she’d made it very clear tonight she wasn’t his to worry about. Apparently she just… hadn’t left at all. He hadn’t even noticed her slip back in the room, how long has she been watching him moon over the scraps she’d thrown him?

“I really am. Look at this. I’ve been saving a box full of garbage.”

He gestures at the box, but he doesn’t break his stare. He won’t look at her. He can’t. He doesn’t want to.

“It’s sweet. I have some, too, you know.”

He wants to ask, but he knows better now. It doesn’t mean what he wants it to mean.

“I’m transferring. To Stamford. Effective immediately. So you don’t have anything to worry about. I’m not going to make things uncomfortable.” He tries to keep the edge out of his voice.

“I know. I mean, it’s the last thing I want, but I know.”

“I can’t. I have to stop, Pam,” and that feels a lot more honest, and why not be honest now? Not like his heart can break again.

“I know. You’ve given up a lot for me.”

“I’ve been living in a fantasy. Like me collecting garbage meant something when he gave you a ring. It’s childish,” he scoffs. He’s thought all this before, but there’s always been a butbutbut at the end. Not this time. “And I need to grow up. I thought we were making a life together because you doodle on my messages sometimes? Pa. The. Tic.”

“You’re not pathetic, and it’s not garbage. It’s important. It means so much to me that you kept all that. I mean, the receipt from the first time we had lunch, Jim… that you saved that? Who does that?”

“Losers. Creeps. Guys who can’t take ‘she’s marrying someone else’ for an answer.” Why is she doing this? Hasn’t she jerked him around enough? He’s gotten the message. He knows.

“Jim, look at me.” Seriously, does she think this is helping? “Look at me, Jim.”

Her voice is soft, but firm, and he can’t help but obey her command. He’s never learned how not to do that. God, he wishes he had.

“Stop talking about my best friend like that.”

CHRIST.

“I know you don’t want me to call you that right now. But you are my best friend. And you always will be.”

She’s in a wedding dress.

She’s in a wedding dress, because he’s fallen asleep at his desk and his brain won’t even let him escape in his dreams.

“Not a dream.”

It’s not even her real wedding dress, and how pitiful is it that he knows that? It’s got spaghetti straps, and none of the pretty lace over her shoulders and arms she’d been so excited about, and a sort of jewel belt, and instead of flowers in her hair she’s wearing…

“Your veil is torn,” he points out, stupidly.

“Oh, yeah,” she says, and rubs the ripped end between her fingers, almost fondly? “Kind of a funny story.”

The way she’s looking at him… he wants that. And she’s not turning away. She’s still gorgeous in the blue light of their computer screens, and it’s not fair. Because he’s going to remember this when he wakes up like it’s real, and it’s not real, and it’s not fair. This dream…

“Again, not a dream. You ever notice you never have to realize you’re dreaming when you’re in a dream? People talk about that, but I always either know on some level or don’t while it’s happening.”

He sighs. Dream Pam is giving him dorm-room stoner insights at 4:00 in the morning. It’d be funny if he could possibly find anything funny right now. “What is it, then?”

She considers that a moment, and settles on an answer. “A wish.”

He laughs. He’s never laughed like this with Pam. After leaving her… after watching her leave him at the end of the day, sometimes. Bitter. Cynical. The kind of laugh you laugh so you won’t scream or hit something. “Nothing about tonight is what I wished.”

But that’s wrong, isn’t it?

The press of her against her chest.

Her hands in his hair.

The look in her eyes when she’d said “me too.”

She smiles. Actually smiles at him, and honestly, how dare she…

“I didn’t say it was your wish, dork. Not everything’s about you, Halpert.” Her grin gets wider as she says his name.

“Why are you here, Pam?” And he’s trying, he’s really trying, but there’s a part of him that’s so mad at her, there’s a part of him that’s always been mad at her. She takes and takes and takes, and when he needs something in return she slaps his hands away. She’s happy to accept his promises, be his obligation, his priority, as long as he never, ever asks to be hers. How could she look at him like that, like he was scaring her, betraying her by telling her something he’s been telling her every day, tell him everything he saw was all in his head? And he’s never wanted to be that guy, he knows he’s not owed anything, but really, how could she not know? And she said “misinterpreted,” she said she was really marrying him, but she also said me too, she does want him back at least a little, how could she…

She shrugs. “I’m not, really.”

She catches him off guard with that. She’s done that a lot tonight.

“I’m sitting on a very ugly couch in my living room, curled up into a ball in my underwear. I’m not crying, because I’m a little too stunned for that, but I’m staring at that stupid periwinkle dress which I tore off the second I got in the door, and I hope it found a nice life at Goodwill, because I’m never going to wear it again.”

Jim did not need those images of Pam in his head, either in pain or her underwear, especially now that he knows what her body feels like moving under her dress. “Pam…”

“I’m here to say thank you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for being my friend while you were in love with me, because I know, Jim, I really do know how much that cost you every day. Thank you for being brave enough to tell me when…”

She’s suddenly by the coatrack, and had it really been less than 24 hours ago she’d used it to help him prank Dwight?

“And I’m here to tell you that I’m going to be brave too, eventually.”

She’s in his usual spot at reception, right by the jellybeans.

“I want you to know I’m in love with you, too. None of it was in your head. It was always real, way before I recognized what it was. I want you to know I’m sorry I wasn’t ready to hear it. And you don’t have anything to feel bad about, because I don’t think I ever would have been. And it hasn’t hit me yet and it won’t for a while, but you changed the course of my life. None of it was worthless, Jim. All of it mattered.”

She’s leaning against the far corner of Dwight’s desk now.

“More than anything I want you to know that in exactly 370 days… really, not too long from now… I’m going to tell you that.”

She’s standing on the side of his.

“And in 371 days, you’re going to wake up next to me for the first time.”

She’s standing at her usual perch on his desk.

“And in 379 days, you’re going to buy me a wedding ring, and you won’t know it, but I’m already going to have to decided to say yes when you ask.”

She’s close now.

“I hurt you, Jim. And there’s more hurt ahead. But I hurt me, too. And I want you to know that everything you wanted is coming. It’s all coming, really, really soon.”

She’s so close.

Please don’t touch me, Pam. he thinks. I’m going to die if you touch me.

She touches him. Takes the tips of his fingers between hers, and puts his hand on her belly. He feels…

“You’re pregnant.”

She nods.

He wants to tell her she’s letting Roy ruin her life, but she’s saying things, and he’s so lost, so instead he just says “congratulations.”

“Congratulations to you, too, Halpert.” She smiles at him, and he thinks he’s crying again. She leans in, whispers to him. “One day, you’re going to use the things in that box to make a mobile for this baby’s crib.”

* * *

He jerks awake.

It’s past 5:00 now, and the sunrise is just starting to leak through the blinds in Michael’s office.

He’s been dreaming… and a nasty dream, from what he can remember. The details are fading fast. He’s sure his subconscious is going to be a rough place to be for a while.

He supposes he should be grateful for whatever woke him up. The last thing this night needs is to end with him getting caught snoozing at his empty desk when Angela shows up for work.

He reaches over and flicks one of Dwight’s bobbleheads absent-mindedly, looking around the office that in a moment will no longer be his. He sees Meredith has claimed the Homer doll for herself. Stanley has left tomorrow’s crossword out and ready to go with one word already filled in (“to make it easier to get started, Jim”). Phyllis has a new framed photo of her and Bob. Kevin is proudly displaying the hateball champion trophy Pam had made for him.

I fell in love here, he thinks, and he picks up the yogurt lids, remembers Pam chastising Creed for flipping his bronze medal to a gold.

For better or for worse, Pam has been at the center of his life since the first time she made him laugh. He’s defined himself by what he is to her, judged his days by how happy he’s made her, learned everything of her he possibly could and sweetly tortured himself with theories about the rest.

Loving her was the most adult thing he’d ever done. And as much as he's spent the last 38 months feeling like Pam had his balls in her purse, she’s also taught him how to be a man.

He’s leaving. But he can’t erase the last three years. They happened. They will always be a part of his story. All of it was his life. All of it mattered.

Maybe one day he’ll be able to look back on it without feeling sick.

This is what he has to do to make this okay. When he can’t spend 40 hours a week pretending, when he doesn’t have her in his life to compare every other woman to, he’ll be able to move on. He’ll fall in love again, and he’ll be better at it because of Pam. More gentle, more giving. More grateful. He’s sure he knows a little more about being a partner… and how not to be one.

Maybe one day when his son goes through his first serious breakup – his son who will not have curly hair or a knack for sketching – he’ll tell him about the person he loved so he could love his mother, about getting your heart broken and how to let it heal. About the people you meet who aren’t your soulmate but help lead you to them, make sure you’re ready for them.

Maybe he’ll want all of this to show him.

He does feel a little better. He did it. At least he did it. He told her. Finally, he said told her. He won’t have to live the rest of his life driving himself mad going back and forth, yes, no, it means nothing, it means everything. She felt something, not what he felt, but something. It wasn’t all in his head, and he didn’t chicken out again. He was man enough to say it once, to kiss her once.

Maybe he needs these reminders that there’s something to be won just by being a little braver.

He thinks of her hands in his, her lips, what her face looked like so close…

He’s making excuses, like always. He knows that. All of this is just rationalization for doing something he wants to do because he can’t accept that it’s over. She said me too, she said me too, she said me too.

I don’t *have* to keep it, he thinks. I can throw it out on my way out of town, or in Stamford. If I toss it right now, it’s gone. But I can always bring it and decide to get rid of it later.

He puts the box under his arm, hits send on the email, and shuts down his computer. He gives one last long look at reception, and shakes it off. It’s the damndest thing. He almost feels at peace.

And he walks out the front door of Dunder Mifflin Scranton for the final time.

* * *

Pam falls silent. For a moment they just lay there, curled together so they’re barely using a quarter of the big hotel bed, her head on his chest, their fingers and legs intertwined, touching as much as they possibly can.

The sunrise is leaking through the blinds. He should really tell the front desk to have someone fix that, but he only notices at moments like this, and he loves the way the light hits Pam. There’s something about the combination of the early morning Caribbean sun and her pregnancy that just makes his wife glow.

His wife.

His lovely, talented, giving, gorgeous, very strange wife.

“So that’s what you’d change?” He’s trying to keep the amusement out of his voice, he really is. “Out of everything?”

“Is that so crazy?”

“There are about a thousand things I would have done differently. I’ve got to admit, babe, trying to make you feel a tiny bit better that night would not have been on the list.”

“But we can’t control what any of that would do. And we needed to go through it all.”

Pam has always insisted on this, that the next year of her being alone and him punishing her (and completely screwing over a perfectly lovely woman just as an added bonus!) was necessary for them to make it work. That she needed to be on her own for a while, to learn who she was without Roy or Jim, that she needed to know what it was like to watch him choose someone else and he needed to know how hard it was to choose.

“If you told me that night we were going to end up like this, I wouldn’t have wanted to change a thing. I would have been terrified that even the smallest difference would mean we wouldn’t get here.”

He kisses her on the forehead. He has to. And he can.

“I’m happy, Jim. I’m so happy I can’t believe it’s my life. All I would’ve wanted is to be there to help you ice the wounds along the way, you know?”

She brushes a stray hair back from her face.

“I remember thinking that night on the couch, ‘I made Jim cry. He makes me laugh and I made him cry.’ I mean, this was way before I realized… I kept going over it in my head, what I should have said differently. Done better. Not hurt you so much, as much as I could.”

He thinks about how much he’d hated Pam then. That night and later that summer when the realization hit that she was never going to call and when he came back and she was always there, free and still out of reach, wanting her buddy back, not letting him move on, not leaving him alone…

He knows she was hurting, but he’s not sure comforting her would have ever occurred to him. And he’s damn sure that no matter how many times they’ve talked about this he wouldn’t be able to access her feelings from that night the way she did his.

She understands him. She knows him. She’s so much kinder than him, and…

“You’re so good, Pam,” and it’s lame and it doesn’t begin to convey how he feels. He briefly considers asking her to marry him a third time. “I don’t think I deserve you.”

She gives him a wry smile.

“Well, you’ve got me whether you do or not. So you better step up your game., Halpert.”

“I’ll do my best, Halpert.”

He kisses her again.

“Working in some of our vows was a nice touch.”

“Thank you, I thought so too.”

She raises her head off his chest and props herself up on her side next to him, looking a little smug.

“So, what did make you decide to take the box?”

“I mean… we’ve talked about this. I wasn’t ready to let go. Not really.”

She raises her eyebrows.

“Yeah, right.”

“What?”

“What? You’re taking credit for it!”

“I mean… in a way, yeah. Maybe I didn’t break the boundaries of space and time, but yeah. It was about me kissing you, me giving you just enough to see what was happening in my head. A little hope, you know?”

“Wow.”

“What???”

“You totally think you visited me in the past.”

“Shut up! I do not.”

“I don’t understand, you look so normal, no one would ever guess you’re completely Looney Tunes.”

“Oh my god!”

“What?”

“The kid’s awake. Here, feel!” She takes the tips of his fingers between hers, and puts his hand on her belly, and he feels the thump, thump, thump he’s fallen in love with.

“Hi, baby,” he says, and rests his cheek against her stomach to get as close as possible to their kid.

The life we made together, he thinks, and smiles.

End Notes:
There’s a (very minor) reference to an MTT underrated classic in here, along with a Jenna Fischer paraphrase. I will accept guesses in the form of reviews. I will also maintain this was totally finished and ready to post on May 11th, and I just couldn’t because the archive was down, and also that since technically it happens on May 12th it’s still being posted on the actual 15th anniversary.
National IT Professionals Day (September 21) by darjeelingandcoke
Author's Notes:
This one’s a little bit of a different spin on the premise than the earlier entries “ less set on the holiday, more inspired by the concept of the holiday. In the event that I *ever* finish the four or five other chapters of this that I didn’t quite get to since May, some of them will be like this as well. Hope you enjoy anyways.

Dedicating this chapter to DoomGoose, and all the other IT professionals who make the world go round and stay patient when it turns out the power cord was just unplugged. (And special thanks to DG for vetting this chapter before it posted.)

We open with an establishing shot of the FRONT OF THE BULLPEN.

JIM is restarting his computer, looking a little frustrated. DWIGHT is leaning across to his desk to micro-manage the restart, which can’t be helping in any sense of the word. ERIN is tapping at her keyboard, also clearly not in the greatest of moods. ANDY and PAM are out on sales calls. PHYLLIS and STANLEY are working the phones.

NICK THE IT GUY enters the office.

NICK (cheerfully):
Good morning, everyone!

ERIN nods grumpily at him. No one else responds, or even looks at him. NICK blinks at this, but is mostly unfazed. He turns to ERIN.

NICK (service with a smile!):
So I understand we’re having some network issues?

ERIN (noticeably snippy, at least by ERIN standards):
Since yesterday. When I called.

NICK:
Well, have you tried turning the router off and on again?

ERIN sighs and grits her teeth, shooting a look to the camera. Yes, she’s tried turning the router off and on again.

NICK (rolling with the punches):
I know, I know, but I have to ask. (confidentially) You’d be shocked how many times you drive all the way out here and that’s all it takes.

ERIN:
Right.

There’s an awkward silence as NICK waits to see if ERIN has anything more to add.

NICK (what a great guy!):
So, let’s take a look!

We cut to a talking head recorded in the “server room,” aka RYAN’S CLOSET.

NICK (maintaining his fundamental good nature):
So I’ve been working with this branch since the Sabre buy-out, about three, four months now. They seem great! (pause) We haven’t really… clicked. But you know, they’re a close-knit bunch, and I’m the lame IT guy they only see when they’re frustrated and stressed out. And it’s like a fire extinguisher… if you don’t need it, who thinks about it? There’s never a good time to bond. I don’t take it personally or anything.

RYAN (off-screen):
Could really use my office back!

NICK (tries to smile even bigger):
Yeah.

We cut to RECEPTION, where NICK is updating ERIN.

NICK (friendly and familiar)
So it turns out I’m going to need to reset some things on the back-end which the last admin password protected. (ERIN sighs) Hey, nothing to worry about. I got in touch with his company, and it turns out he was already in the neighborhood, so he’s going to pop by himself any minute now, and you can just send him right back when he gets here. It’s a guy named…

DWIGHT (off-screen):
Sadiq!

And the camera swings to reveal SADIQ is, in fact, in da house. We do a series of quick cuts to joyful reactions to his arrival from JIM and DWIGHT; PHYLLIS and STANLEY; and ERIN… who is still next to a non-plussed NICK.

JIM rises to greet him.

JIM:
Welcome back, man! We miss you around here.

JIM and SADIQ do a half-handshake, half-hug.

SADIQ:
Nice to see you too, Jim. How’s fatherhood treating you?

JIM:
It’s amazing. Although they weren’t kidding about babies not sleeping much.

The camera is shooting this from the window of MICHAEL’S OFFICE, leaving NICK visible in the background. We do a brief focus in on him to find him waiting patiently, smiling politely… and watching closely.

SADIQ:
Pretty bad?

JIM:
Oh, she’s ready for college. Parties all night. And the set of lungs on that kid!

SADIQ:
Something to remember when she’s complaining about having to mow the lawn before she can take the car, right?

JIM:
(laughs) Yeah, I’m definitely gonna throw this back in her face. Is that bad parenting?

SADIQ chuckles, pats him on the shoulder and reaches over to shake DWIGHT’s hand. Behind them, NICK raises his eyebrow in surprise and looks to camera.

DWIGHT:
Your presence is badly needed. I’m tired of listening to these slackers whine about the Internet being down, like no one sold paper before 1991.

SADIQ:
Well, I’m happy to help. I was just thinking about you the other day. I went to a new restaurant over on Jacobs Street and had this terrific borscht. I was wondering if those were your beets?

DWIGHT:
Jane’s? (SADIQ nods. DWIGHT is quite pleased.) Why, not just my beets. That’s Mose’s own borscht recipe!

SADIQ:
No kidding!

Under this dialogue, NICK has grown more and more astonished to see DWIGHT having such a… normal social interaction.

PAM (returning to the office):
Sadiq!

She runs over to the FRONT DESK CLUMP to give him a hug… passing right by NICK at RECEPTION without a glance.

SADIQ:
Hey, momma! You look fantastic.

PAM:
Oh, you’re sweet. And a shameless liar.

That earns another chuckle from SADIQ. Behind him, NICK laughs too, as if by doing so he can become part of the conversation.

SADIQ:
Don’t be silly. So, Jim said Cece’s not sleeping too well?

PAM:
(rolls her eyes) She’s real lucky she’s cute.

SADIQ:
You got pictures?

PAM (fakes confusion):
Hmmm. Maybe, let me check… (SADIQ laughs as she pulls a leather mini-album out of her purse and hands it to him.)

SADIQ starts to flip through them, with PAM looking over his left shoulder.

SADIQ:
Awwwww! Wow, Pam, Jim. she’s adorable. Seriously.

During this dialogue, NICK subtly tries to sidle over so he can look too… and is accidentally blocked by JIM, who crosses to SADIQ’s right side.

PAM:
Thank you.

SADIQ:
Looks like she’s got your nose?

PAM:
Yeah, we lucked out on that one, right?

JIM (mock offended):
Hey!

They laugh.

NICK’s smile noticeably flickers watching this, but he recovers quickly. Of you weren’t watching him intently (and who is?) you’d never know this wasn’t the same bland but kindly old… Shadow? Garth? Something.

NICK:
So, shall we?

We cut to a talking head with NICK in front of the refrigerator.

NICK (glances over to see if SADIQ is paying attention):
Yeah, I’m surprised. (rationalizing, remaining pleasant) But, you know, they all worked together for a long time, and we haven’t yet. It’s a good thing, actually! It means if I just keep trying, keep being friendly to people, eventually we’ll get along, too.

We cut back to SADIQ’s journey through the BULLPEN. He starts to walk with NICK towards the KITCHEN, but briefly pauses to visit with STANLEY and PHYLLIS.

PHYLLIS (putting a hand over her phone):
Hi sweetie!

SADIQ:
Hey there, Mrs. Vance!

STANLEY:
How’s the ‘vette coming?

SADIQ:
Might be able to get her on the streets this summer. Engine’s purring like a kitten now.

STANLEY:
You let me know, you owe me a road trip.

SADIQ:
I’ll call you.

NICK swallows his frustration.

We cut back to NICK’s refrigerator talking head.

NICK:
Apparently Sadiq is restoring a ’67 Corvette. (pause) I actually built my Buick from recovered spare parts, so. That’s something I can talk about with Stanley.

We return to the door to the kitchen, where KELLY runs to greet them. SADIQ stands in the entryway to chat with her, while NICK awkwardly holds the door open. He’s openly a little irritated for the first time.

KELLY:
Oh my god, Sadiq! Have you heard the new Kanye album?

SADIQ (rapping, and rapping *well*):
“No one man should have all that power.” It’s his best since College Dropout.

KELLY:
I was just telling Ryan that! (leans in) He thinks Graduation was better.

SADIQ scoffs.

KELLY:
I know, right? So stupid!

We see NICK, getting the mask back on.

Cut to the CONFERENCE ROOM for a talking head.

KELLY:
Sadiq. Is. So. Awesome. He’s the only guy in Scranton who *gets* the rap game. And he’s really cute! I’d totally date him. (pause, then regretfully) But my parents would probably see him as an improvement over a white guy.

We return to the break room, where SADIQ and NICK have finally made it to the CLOSET. NICK is sitting down at RYAN’S STATION, while OSCAR chats with SADIQ in the doorway.

OSCAR:
You listen to All Things Considered this morning?

SADIQ:
About antibiotic resistance? Yeah, scary stuff, right?

OSCAR:
I’m forwarding it to everyone I know. So glad that’s finally getting some attention. And here we’re all worrying about the Times Square bomber, like that’s our biggest threat! (can you imagine?)

NICK is definitely starting to run out of patience, but he brightens again when SADIQ turns back towards him.

NICK (back in his refrigerator talking head and feeling a liiiiiitle picked on):
Look, Oscar listens to the news, the Times Square attack had been on the news this morning. I was just trying to make conversation!

We cut back to the CLOSET door. SADIQ has taken a seat next to NICK, but is facing out to talk to TOBY, who has stopped by for a visit. NICK is no longer bothering to hide his annoyance, not that anyone cares.

SADIQ:
The new Oracle database management software is just a huge step up. More user-friendly, way better security. I’d definitely recommend the upgrade.

TOBY:
Well, I’ll definitely check it out.

NICK (to the refrigerator once more, exasperated):
I told Toby that exact same thing, he wasn’t even listening!

We return once more to RYAN’S CLOSET, where Angela has appeared at the door.

NICK (making a valiant effort to be nice):
Hey, Angela.

She flat out ignores him.

ANGELA (formally):
Hello, Sadiq. It’s good to see you again. Those brownies you like are in the break room. Once you are done getting us back online, you may have two.

SADIQ:
You know how much I enjoy your desserts, Angela.

NICK drops his jaw, perhaps more at ANGELA’s politeness to SADIQ than at her rudeness to him, as we…

…cut to the conference room for an ANGELA talking head.

ANGELA:
Yes, Sadiq is a godless heathen who rejects the word of our Lord and Savior. (pause) But he’s also the only person in this company who seems to care what Kevin’s doing on the Internet. So… he can have a snack while he waits to answer to the Almighty.

We do a quick cut back to the conference room, for a talking head with NICK… who just huffs and shakes his head.

Looks like everything’s up and running again, and SADIQ and NICK are packed up and ready to go at RECEPTION. SADIQ stops to check in with ERIN.

SADIQ:
All right, you should be all set, but here’s my cell. (He hands her a business card.) If you all have any questions about what I set up, please call. Dunder Mifflin’s still contracted with us for Utica and Binghamton, so you can bill through them. (leans in conspiratorially) Just remember…

ERIN (leans towards Sadiq in similar fashion, so happy to be part of an inside joke!):
…make sure to try turning it off and on again?

SADIQ:
You got it!

They laugh as the camera zooms in on an appalled NICK watching.

ERIN (warmly, just off camera):
Thanks for coming, Sadiq.

SADIQ (sincerely):
Any time.

NICK is a volcano waiting to blow.

We cut to a talking head with NICK outside the office. He stews for a moment.

NICK:
F(bleep) these people.

End Notes:
In their defense, they worked for Sadiq for at least a full year and a half, and when they first met him Michael assumed he was a terrorist. Maybe they just take time to warm up. They were still treating Ryan like the new guy right up until he left for corporate, basically.

Also, this is in total contradiction to what Dwight says about their relationship with Sadiq in Nick’s last episode. Maybe he’s lying. Maybe he’s just being Dwight. Or maybe I decided to ignore it because I thought this was funny. Heck, there’s really no way this lines up with Nick’s relatively positive attitude towards them as of “Whistleblower.” Let’s just say this is canon-adjacent rather than canon-compliant.

Trivia: Jane’s on Jacobs Street is a reference to Jane Jacobs, who Google informs me was a Scranton native. Wonder if there are any other famous Scrantonians who might appear in this story…
Joe Biden’s Birthday (November 20, 2008) by darjeelingandcoke
Author's Notes:
A chapter in honor of Scranton’s favorite son (for the non-Americans: Joe Biden was in fact born in Scranton and lived there until he was ten, and he’s made it a big part of his political identity). Normally I try not to get political on here, and much of this isn’t expressly so, but be warned: here be dragons. The takes on each character’s political views are based on my personal interpretation of canon and what I think would be funny, and this is not meant to approve of, disapprove of or push any particular position. (I save that for Twitter.)

You don’t have to follow American politics or have a close memory of our 2008 election cycle to enjoy this, but there’ll definitely be a few more jokes in it for you if you do.

Hat-tip to our beloved Dernhelm, who helped inspire this one, and sorry it’s not really close to Joe Biden’s birthday. (It would’ve happened sooner if we eliminated the filibuster.) I promise I’ll get the National Paper Airplane Day chapter done eventually. Maybe even by the next National Paper Airplane Day.

We open at RECEPTION, where PAM is standing on a chair hanging decorations off the wall behind her desk.

 

We see MICHAEL enter, in full Uncle Sam regalia: a top hat with red stripes and a blue band with white stars around the base, an obnoxiously big red bow tie, a blue waistcoat, red and white striped pants and a fake white beard. The image is only broken by Michael’s smile, very distinct from Uncle Sam’s typically stern countenance.

 

MICHAEL:
Uncle Pam, check it out!

 

He gestures to his attire, and then spreads open his coat to reveal another twist on the classic Uncle Sam image – an amateur-designed t-shirt featuring a Photoshop of Joe Biden with a broad, open-mouthed grin, shooting finger guns. It’s set against a background that reads “Straight Outta Scranton,” aping the “Straight Outta Compton” style.


MICHAEL:
Ah?

 

He shoots PAM finger guns of his own and matches Joe Biden’s grin.

 

PAM responds with the same gesture and smile, albeit with somewhat faked enthusiasm. She has turned away from her decorating to do so, revealing the poster is the same picture featured on Michael’s shirt. The banner above it reads “Happy Joe Biden Day!”

 

MICHAEL (snaps his fingers):
And that’s not malarkey!

 

He winks. PAM smiles indulgently.

 

We cut to a talking head with MICHAEL in HIS OFFICE, still in full costume.

 

MICHAEL:
Today is the biggest day in Scranton history. Even bigger than when Kevin McCallister’s mom came here! Because 66 years ago today, a baby was born in a little house right over on Washington Avenue. (Quick cut to a photo of MICHAEL on the lawn of a grey three-story Colonial, where he is being yelled at by the homeowner.) And that baby is now the Vice-President of the United States, Joseph Robinette Biden. (Note that MICHAEL mispronounces Robinette.) So our city has decided to host the First Annual Vice-President Joe Biden Festival in his honor. Long overdue, in my opinion. And what better way is there to honor Scranton’s favorite son than by buying paper from a Scranton business? I think Joe Biden would want that. And I would know! When I was little, I played on the exact same coal slag heap that he did! (A quick cut to another photo – this one of a young Michael cheerfully posing with a red plastic beach shovel in front of what is clearly industrial waste.)


We cut to a CONFERENCE ROOM talking head with PAM, who has had MICHAEL’s Uncle Sam hat foisted on her.

PAM:
No, it’s not just Michael. Everyone around here is really excited about this. (beat) Not the sale, obviously. (brightens) But we love Joe! I worked at this ice cream place in high school that’s supposed to have been his favorite as a kid, and the owner had these big framed photos of him eating a cone at the exact same table, in the exact same way at seven years old and when he was running for president the first time. He made all of us memorize the story to tell the customers. And that was just when he was a senator! Now he… (pauses, frowns, thinking, thinking…) breaks ties in the Senate, I think? (shrugs)

 

We return to the FRONT DESK CLUMP, where we find JIM working the phones.

 

JIM:
…I know, such a big day for Scranton. (listens) Yeah, that’s actually why I’m calling. In honor of our 47th Vice-President, Dunder Mifflin is offering a 4.7% price reduction on all bonds, cardstocks, and recycled paper products for today only. (listens, smirk of victory) That’s right, you’d be locking in that price point for the entire length of the contract, so the longer you sign up for, the longer the savings last. (listens a bit, then laughs) The sort of deal Joe Biden would have been proud to cut in the Senate, I like that!

 

We stay with JIM in the CONFERENCE ROOM for a talking head.

 

JIM (surprisingly earnest):
Look, it’s silly… but it is pretty cool! I mean, I’m going to be able to take our children and show them this little house just like ours, and tell them a little boy who grew up here just like them got to be one of the most powerful people in the world. And if it can happen once to a kid from Scranton, it can happen again. There really aren’t any limits on what they can achieve. (He smiles, a twinkle in his eye… then reconsiders) Well, not on our son, anyways.

 

We cut to the FRONT OF THE BULLPEN, where an irritated-looking OSCAR is entering for his workday. He does not acknowledge the decorations. MICHAEL charges out of his office, still in costume.


MICHAEL:
Oscar! My man! You know the rules, buddy. Come on, Oscar! (turns to camera) That’s what he said.

 

OSCAR sighs and makes the Biden finger gun gesture and face. If you thought PAM was unenthusiastic about doing this, you hadn’t seen nothin’ yet. MICHAEL, on the other hand, is ecstatic.

 

MICHAEL:
There we go! Happy Joe Biden Day!

 

He slaps a circular sticker reading simply “JOE” in white letters on a blue background on OSCAR’s expensive-looking coat, to OSCAR’s chagrin. We then join him in the KITCHEN for a talking head, done while he dabs at the spot where MICHAEL stuck the sticker with a damp paper towel.

 

OSCAR:
It took me an extra 15 minutes to get into work today because most of the main streets are closed, either for the festival booths or for the parade featuring Joe Biden’s third cousin as the grand marshal. (He’s dabbing pretty aggressively now.) I got caught behind a tour bus showing people “Joe’s Scranton stomping grounds,” which was completely full of people paying $10 to be shown the Little League field half of them played at. (Seriously, Oscar, that can’t be good for your coat.) And I can’t drop off my excise tax payment because all city employees have been given the day off. (He inspects the coat and sighs in frustration, then straight to camera:) You know, this is always how I imagined Scranton would embrace America’s first black president.

 

We do a quick check-in around the office. We find KELLY in the annex, working away with a doleful expression in sharp contrast to the waving Joe Biden beaming from her chest. It should be noted that in contrast to MICHAEL, her shirt is professionally printed, the sort of things one would find at a streetside booth. MEREDITH is pouring over paperwork in a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders baseball jersey with BIDEN #47 on the back. STANLEY is on the phone, pitching the sale prices unaided by any Biden memorabilia. MICHAEL sneaks up behind him and plops his Uncle Sam hat on STANLEY’s head. STANLEY turns to him and stares. MICHAEL laughs uproariously. STANLEY looks to camera, world’s most patriotic hat on and glum-faced.

 

We cut to the CONFERENCE ROOM for a talking head with STANLEY, sans hat.

STANLEY (as ever, unimpressed):
We attend the Bidens’ old church, something our parish priest has found a way to work into every sermon since the convention. Whole lot of the members were real close with the family, considering they left town 60 years ago. (He shoots a look to the camera.) They did add a new sandwich at the Glider Diner in his honor, though. (This, on the other hand, has his interest.) The Vice-President. Quarter-pound of Black Forest ham, heirloom tomatoes, fresh green peppers, sliced cucumber and four different kinds of cheese on toasted, buttered brioche. (He has a far-off look in his eyes.) Mmmmmm. (Satisfied smile.) I’m proud of my country.

 

We pay a visit to ACCOUNTING, where a mischievous-looking KEVIN is settling in for the day… extremely late, it should be noted.


KEVIN (with a slow grin betraying his child-like amusement at his own antics):
Hey, Angela. Guess what I got at Bidenfest on my way here.

 

He pulls from his briefcase a novelty photo of himself standing in between life-sized cut-outs of Biden and Barack Obama, who are standing back-to-back with their arms crossed buddy cop movie poster-style. He has an elbow on each man’s shoulder. Printed across the top of the photo in red bubble letters is the phrase “MEET THE BIG DOGS.”

 

ANGELA huffs in disgust. KEVIN snickers in triumph. She then picks up her phone and punches in a number.

ANGELA:
Yes, David Wallace please. (who are you to even ask?) It’s Angela Martin, head of accounting.

 

We cut to the CONFERENCE ROOM.

 

ANGELA:

I just find think it’s incredibly inappropriate.(Very prim and proper:) When I was growing up, polite people didn’t discuss politics in the workplace. (She sniffs.) I guess that’s another value we’ve lost in this country. You can’t pray in the public schools, but we’ve got paper sales for Democrats! (She shakes her head.) I’m disappointed is all. (beat) We used to be a great nation, a Christian nation. I’m worried we’ll never be that great again. But it’s like *he* says, hope is a powerful thing. (However much contempt you’re reading into this, turn it up at least one more notch.) And I have hope… hope we’ll be seeing a lot more of that lovely Sarah Palin soon. Now there’s change *I* can believe in.

 

We return to the BULLPEN, checking in again on the REAR DESK CLUMP, where STANLEY and ANDY are working the phones.

 

STANLEY (in the foreground):
That’’s right, Can I send you over a 12-month contract? (listens) You’ll have it in your hands in the next 10 minutes.

 

We blur STANLEY and focus in on ANDY.

 

ANDY:
That’s a good question, and I’ve got a great answer for you… just like Obama and Biden, the quality of our products can’t be beat! (He gives a big smile as he waits for a laugh that is absolutely not coming. Sensing the silence is becoming awkward, he pivots to:) Trees are just *dying* to become Dunder Mifflin paper, you know what I mean? (Andy listens and starts to grimace.) Yes… yes, you’re absolutely right. Climate change, deforestation, very serious. (Beat) Can I interest you in our 100% recycled paper line? (Pause.) Hello?

 

ANDY (starting in voiceover over him realizing the potential client has hung up on him, sadly hanging up the phone and crossing a name off the list, then joining him for a talking head in the CONFERENCE ROOM):
Yeah, Joe Biden’s the vice-president, it’s a big deal… if you’re from *Scranton.* But I went to college at Cornell University. You know who went to Cornell? The President. (Beat that! Well…) Of the Czech Republic. Vaclav Klaus. (Supremely sure of himself) But I’m just saying, if I ever go to Prague, the Cornell alumni association is gonna hook. Me. Up.

 

We return to RECEPTION, where PAM picks up a call.

 

PAM:
Dunder Mifflin, this is Pam. (listens) Sure, Steph, I’ll get him now.

 

She rises and we follow her into MICHAEL’S OFFICE, where he is punching away at his computer, fake beard still on and hat on the desk beside him. PAM starts to speak, but before she can get a word out, MICHAEL gives her a significant look. PAM sighs and wordlessly acquiesces, shooting him the finger guns again. Her enthusiasm is not as well faked this time. MICHAEL is delighted and shoots them back.

 

MICHAEL:
Thank you. What’s up?

 

PAM:
David Wallace’s office, on line two.

 

MICHAEL:
Ah, the power behind the throne! (makes a connection) Hey, he’s like the Joe Biden of Dunder Mifflin!


He raises his eyebrows. Ah? Ahhhhh?

 

PAM concludes this will go faster if she resists less and gives him her best “huh, I never thought of it like that!” look.

 

MICHAEL (picks up the phone):
(singing) Hail to the Chief Financial Officer! (pauses) Oh, hi, Stephanie. Yes, I’ll hold.

 

PAM shoots a relieved look to the camera and starts to exit. MICHAEL, waiting for DAVID, grabs the hat and throws it after her. It bounces off the back of her head, to her annoyance.

We join PHYLLIS in the CONFERENCE ROOM. She’s dressed for a more typical workday than some, but she’s attached Joe Biden for President 1988 and 2008 buttons to her sweater, and another that reads “Ready to GO with Barack and JOE.”

 

PHYLLIS:
Oh, it’s so silly, the way people are about it. “I sold Joe Biden a pencil!” “I ride my bike to school the same way he did!” It’s just exciting, and people want to feel part of it. But you know the people who are really connected to the Bidens, we don’t feel the need to brag about it all the time. (She looks over her shoulder to see if anyone is paying attention to her talking head in the office, and then leans forward and whispers conspiratorially.) I knew them pretty good back in the day. Lost my virginity to one of his nephews.

 

We watch MICHAEL on the phone in HIS OFFICE, shot from outside. He’s pacing back and forth.

 

MICHAEL (upset, knows he’s in trouble):
Why would I need to ask? It’s my branch, and it’s a great idea! (listens) I mean, come on, David! What is this, Stalin and the USS? (listens) But… this… this is Scranton’s prodigal son! The whole town is celebrating him, and we’re not allowed? (listens) Where would anyone get the idea that this is the company taking sides?

 

KEVIN walks through the shot, now wearing a t-shirt with the Dunder Mifflin logo, a heart, and a picture of Joe Biden.

 

We cut to the CONFERENCE ROOM, where KELLY is settling down, although we seem to be joining a conversation already in progress. She’s still putting on her microphone, and from the sound quality she hasn’t turned it on yet as we arrive on the scene.

 

KELLY (looking farther off to the side than is typical for a talking head, as if she’s speaking directly to someone other than the camera):
I mean, you know the story, right? He’s just been elected to the Senate for the first time, he’s 30 years old, and his wife and kids get in this horrible car accident. His wife dies, his toddler daughter dies, one of his sons fractures his skull. (She pauses) You know, when my sister… she was merging onto the highway in bad weather, she got hit by a tractor-trailer. She was a little older than me, she was 28, finishing up med school. Her whole life was ahead of her and then… (Kelly blinks hard a few times.) I think a thing like that changes you. Teaches you something about how fragile life is, how easily it can all… go away. Hopefully a little something about compassion, empathy. I don’t know. They make so many decisions that impact so many lives, I think it’s good you have someone there who understands what it’s like to lose someone. Maybe it helps. (She sighs and shakes her head.) Anyways. Are you guys ready to shoot? (She seems to receive a signal from someone off camera.) Great. (She fluffs her hair a bit, reaches to her waist to click on her mike, and all of a sudden, she’s our girl KELLY KAPOOR again). I mean, this is the coolest thing that’s ever happened to everyone from Scranton, *ever*. And I bet now he’s going to run for president again, and maybe people will care next time. And that means *John Legend* might come to Scranton. Or Kanye. Sophia Bush, Brad, Matt and Ben. Do you know Obama was endorsed by all three Jessicas? We’re this close to being like… Pennsylvania-wood!

 

We cut to the BULLPEN, as a shaken and scrambling MICHAEL exits HIS OFFICE. JIM, PAM, and a grim but Uncle Sam hat-adorned DWIGHT all start to raise finger guns at him with various degrees of resignation.


MICHAEL:
Stop, stop that. And take that off.

 

He swipes the hat from DWIGHT and throws it into HIS OFFICE. DWIGHT looks a little relieved. JIM and PAM exchange confused looks, as we start to take in that MICHAEL has ditched the beard, bow tie and waistcoat and flipped the shirt inside out, leaving behind only the barbershop quartet pants.

 

MICHAEL:
We’ve gotta… we’ve gotta take all this down. (raising voice) I’m sorry, could I have everyone’s attention please? (Quick shots of folks tuning in at the STANLEY-PHYLLIS-ANDY clump, of the ACCOUNTING STACK and of CREED and MEREDITH). So I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I’ve decided we shouldn’t be doing anything for Joe Biden Day.

 

ANGELA looks smug. Everyone else makes various expressions of confusion.

 

PAM:
Michael, you haven’t talked about anything but this since the election.

 

MICHAEL (getting steadily louder and more strident):
Well, you know what, Pam? Republicans buy paper, too. Magic Johnson said that, and he was right. (JIM gives a “not quite, Michael” look to the camera.) Dunder Mifflin is a company for everyone. We don’t care if you’re black or white or red or blue as long as you’ve got the green. And I just don’t think we should be seen as taking sides like this, so let’s just take all these decorations down. Kevin, maybe put a coat over that shirt. Oscar, lose the sticker. (OSCAR looks like he’s about to burst a blood vessel.) Phyllis, the buttons? Stanley, I’m sure you’ve got some swag from ya boy Barack to take down. (A quick look to camera from STANLEY.)

 

PHYLLIS:
Okay, but Michael…

 

MICHAEL:
Look, what if Joe The Plumber walked into this office right now? Wouldn’t we want to be able to say Joe The Plumber bought our paper?

 

DWIGHT:
Well, the paper needs of a plumbing business couldn’t be that large.


MICHAEL:
Dwight…


DWIGHT:
I’m just saying, I’d rather have Sam the Accountant or Jake the Lawyer.


MICHAEL:
God, Dwight, could you…

 

PHYLLIS:
But Michael, what about the sale? We’ve promised a bunch of people price reductions.

 

JIM:
Yeah, it’s going over really well. I’ve picked up a half-dozen new clients this morning.

 

MICHAEL (has clearly not thought about that before this moment):
Well, obviously we’re going to keep the sale going. The sale doesn’t have anything to do with Joe Biden.


JIM:
Then… why is it a 4.7% discount?

 

MICHAEL (opens and closes his mouth a few times, then…)
In honor of the great Roberto Clemente. #47. Also a Pennsylvanian, *and* he died in November. We’re doing this to honor the memory of one of the great Philadelphia Phillies.

KEVIN:
He played for the Pirates, Michael.

MEREDITH:
And died on New Year’s Eve.

JIM:
And wore number 21.

MICHAEL
Just… just… take the decorations down.

He spins on his heel and heads back to his OFFICE.

KEVIN (calls after him):
Can we still leave early for the…

MICHAEL:
NO!

He slams the door behind him.

We cut to DAVID WALLACE’S OFFICE.

DAVID WALLACE (well-rehearsed):
Senator Obama winning is great for the country, and like all Americans I wish him success. It’s going to make us truly united, a huge victory for equality. Beyond that, I’m really not comfortable talking about my personal politics on camera.

 

As he speaks, the camera zooms in on a group of photos on the wall behind him: DAVID WALLACE shaking hands with John McCain; DAVID WALLACE doing a grip-and-grin with Dick Cheney; a candid shot of DAVID WALLACE and HIS WIFE chatting over canapes at a fundraiser with Paul Ryan.

 

We then return to the office for a quick whip-around. KEVIN sadly puts his Big Dogs photo in a drawer. KELLY removes a campaign sign she’s hung in her nook. JIM helps PAM take down the banner, while DWIGHT, on the phone, watches with satisfaction.

 

DWIGHT (in voiceover, then flipping to a talking head):
Oh, I’m very pleased. The sale’s fine, but the rest of it? (He scoffs.) Maybe these city folk are fans of Joe Biden. But I’ll tell you, he’s no friend of the root vegetable farmer. Sold us out to the beet growers in Mexico and China. Disgraceful. (Thoughtful, with an increasingly far-off look in his eye…) It is something, though. Just a boy from Lackawanna County, rising to power. Armies at his command, nuclear football at his side. Really makes you think… what else can a Scranton boy do? (DWIGHT is staring off into space, and starts to smirk.)

 

Smash cut to a conference room talking head with JIM.

Whose eyes widen in silent horror as we…

…cut to a talking head with CREED.

CREED:
In the spring of 1968, I played Archbold Stadium in Syracuse with The Grassroots. After the show, this law student comes up to me, says he digs our music. Seems like a cool head, so I tell him he should come hang out with us. We shared a couple brews, smoke a little grass, have a few laughs, steal a Caddy, vandalize a draft board, write what eventually became the opening chords to our hit song Midnight Confessions. Fun Tuesday. But the guy tells me that once he graduates, he’s going to go into politics. And a few years later, shows up on the news… as Joe Biden. (very matter of fact) Nice guy. That Obama fella too. (beat) I would’ve voted for them if the state of Florida let felons cast a ballot.

End Notes:
The dunking on the political achievements of Cornell alumni are actually a little misplaced – I have rather purposefully ignored American legend Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Class of ’54), a handful of senators, a bunch of cabinet secretaries and Gabby Giffords. Rep. Beth Van Duyne would have been in undergrad about when Andy was, although she wasn’t in Congress at this point. But such sacrifices must be made for comedy. I’m sure Cornell understands. And I hope RBG does.

Also, my apologies for the slight slur on Pam’s knowledge, but real talk: an awful lot of Americans don’t know what the Vice-President does, and she gets the right answer in the end. My head canon is that Pam got super involved in politics after 2016.

Interestingly, prominent among the names that popped up as celebrity endorsers of Barack Obama: Rashida Jones and Kate Flannery! The latter of which is funny to me because Meredith has definitely never voted in her life. I thought about having Kelly make reference to it, but I decided it was too distracting.

My interpretation of Kelly, for the record, is based on a *very* specific headcanon in which this is all kind of a put-on for the cameras to get her more screentime and hopefully her own reality show, because life is short and she’s not going to waste the opportunity to make herself a star. Remember her wink to the camera when she “accidentally” embarrasses Jan during Boys and Girls? That’s the real Kelly, and one of our few sightings of her. Maybe.

And finally: I am fully aware the “Straight Outta Compton” meme joke is anachronistic. But it made me smile.
This story archived at http://mtt.just-once.net/fanfiction/viewstory.php?sid=6016