Aquarelle Blooms by PenciledCadenzas
Summary:

Following a crushing showing at the art exhibition, Pam is offered a new path forward by her instructor. Finding confidence and a renewed sense of self worth, she is afforded the opportunity to break free from an oppressive and toxic environment. What happens when Jim stumbles intor this alternative life and witnesses her growth firsthand? (Late Season 3 - AU) 

 


Categories: Episode Related, Jim and Pam, Alternate Universe Characters: Ensemble, Jim, Jim/Karen, Karen, Michael, Pam, Pam/Roy
Genres: Angst, Drama
Warnings: Adult language, Other Adult Theme
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 4 Completed: No Word count: 17895 Read: 3345 Published: December 05, 2020 Updated: December 28, 2020
Chapter 3: Gouache Sunlight and Pained Overtures by PenciledCadenzas
Author's Notes:

Our dear Pam may have to (inwardly) take a few steps back, experience a brief recoil of reflection and anxiety following her actions in the last chapter. But she'll bounce back. Sometimes, you have to fake it ‘til you make it. 

Chapter 3: Gouache Sunlight and Pained Overtures

  

“Remember that casino night about a month before we were supposed to get married? I kissed Jim...He told me how he felt, and I guess I had feelings too. And we kissed...” 

  

Roy's face was a charcoal sketch upon the inside of her skull, scored with piqued lines and shadows of ire. She could not rid her mind of the memory of it, as Pam knit herself into her bedsheets with exaggerated movements, sleep dancing out of reach. The stale sweetness of caramel and cloves, pierced by the sting of alcohol, still lingered in her nostrils. His breath a cheap whiskey; absent the peaty complexity or wooded finishes she associated with a higher grade of liquor. Sharp and potent, the kind one drinks for the sole purpose of arriving at insobriety rather than the journey to it. The kind that requires a lack of regard for ramifications to ones’ self or their immediate company. Fitting… 

  

Pam had miserably woken just two short hours after diving into the warm confines of her bed. She cursed the darkness that engulfed the room, stubbornly refusing to glance at her clock, knowing the hour to be too few for her current status. Her mind instead was a hamster wheel of self-critique and apprehension over the events of the evening.  

  

Why did I tell him? I could have just broken it off, said it wasn’t working; that they shouldn’t be trying to change each other. They both deserved better than that. It would have been so much easier. Sure, he wouldn’t have understood, but at least there was a chance the bartender might not have had to file an insurance claim. Could have saved him all that paperwork... There she was, doing it again. Assigning blame to herself for Roy’s actions. Damn it.

  

At least I didn’t say ‘have’. Present tense. He’d probably kill me...or Jim. She shuddered at the thought. Pam couldn’t bring herself to fully consider whether Roy would actually assault anyone. In their worst days, he had terrified her; screaming into her face, his spit invading the tears that trailed her cheeks. He would dig at her insecurities, pulling on the tatters of her self-worth. In the end though, the abuse that fell from his mouth had always satiated him; with Pam left licking invisible wounds, her mind an inhospitable refuge to its host. 

  

Still, this time had been different. He’d been enraged to the point of physical damage, even if not to a person, but to private property. She’d witnessed him teeter on the edge before, but Pam couldn’t remember a time he had acted so violently, and it left her body quaking the entire drive home. 

 

Should I warn Jim? Pam pinched the bridge of her nose at the thought of his name, a synonym for headache, a new swarm of nerves barreling through her. 

  

HOW do I warn him? How, when he barely talks to me? How, without telling him that I admitted to Roy that I had feelings for him before I could even admit that to him? As she had so many times before, Pam imagined driving to his apartment in the dead of night and spilling a year's worth of epiphanies onto his doorstep. Carving the truths she had hoped to share with him months before upon the wood of his front door. Acts that would leave him no choice but to absorb the pieces of her that her body no longer accepted as her own; her heart little more than an infected appendix. She shook her head in the dark, wishing the thoughts could fall from her ears and sink into her mattress rather than swirl in her mind. You’re not supposed to be caring about him anymore…remember? He's moved on...and so should you. 

  

“You suck...” Pam whispered the truth to the overhead fan rotating above her bed, and it wasn’t immediately clear even to her who she addressed. Dismissing the thought, her attention instead fell to a local light source. 2:56 am She cursed the hour, her gaze following the rusty fog the alarm clock emitted over the room that was her entire apartment. The memory of the last quasi-normal conversation they'd had emerged in the darkness. 

  

“Oh yeah, my fancy new apartment...I have one bedroom, one bathroom, and a closet.” 

“And how many kitchens?” 

“I have one kitchen.” 

“Wow, you got totally taken for a ride, Beesly. Most apartments these days have like three...how are you going to cook every meal of the day in one kitchen?” 

  

Pam bemoaned herself for inwardly chuckling at the joke. Might as well have lied about the kitchen too. She had after all, casually left out the fact that the 'one-bedroom' was also her one living room, one dining room, and flowed seamlessly into her one, solitary, kitchen. And frankly, that was enough for her. Tidiness was a natural necessity with such a small and multi-functional living area. But her most cherished possessions hung on the walls or were nestled between canisters of tea in a kitchen cabinet. The fact was that Pam had never been one to take up much space. 

  

Yet in that phone call, after they had eased into jokes and narration of recent events like no time or heartache had passed between them, she could just make out the edge of reverb in his voice. The faint vibrato of what she now understood to be his promotion, bounding off a glass wall of 'evolution' he'd constructed for himself, resonating through the handset. And in that moment, following a day spent tracking Michael's every movement while her brain flipped through a Rolodex of excuses to give her landlord for her late rent, her life seemed to reflect more of a demotion than the upgrade she inwardly knew it to be. She had been in a post-demolition phase of her renovation, and Pam had not been quite ready for Jim to see the exposed scaffolding or insulation. 
 

How many lies were there between them? She grabbed the pillow beside her head to smother the aggravated moan. Pam could not wait for his eviction from her mind. For thirty more minutes, she lay amongst her tangled sheets, begging sleep to visit her again before throwing off the blankets and accepting her very tired fate. 

 

Forgoing the overhead light, she carried her watercolor block across the twilight-soaked room to the single aperture of her studio. Unlike the rest of the apartment, the window was large; floor to ceiling, and several panes wide, with a rolling arch rounding off the top. It was her favorite feature of her home. And while the showroom she'd visited before signing her lease staged a bed along the natural light source, Pam chose to surround it with her favorite things. Delicately, she balanced the blank canvas upon the easel and collected the infamous mug that sat on the windowsill beside it to replace the rinse water. 

 
Turning to the kitchen, she briefly paused to glance at her palette, the action met with a sigh. She really needed to clean it, the paints a muddled tie-die upon the enamel-coated tray. But Pam had been trying to preserve the dregs of her watercolors for the last week, reviving them daily with spritzes of water and extending mediums. Her lips pressing thin as she deliberated, Pam finally decided that 'tea' was the answer—sleep would have been preferred but—she'd make herself some tea and then tackle the dilemmas that vexed her. 

 
By the time she’d returned to the cotton paper, the softest glow of magenta was bleeding into the indigo dusk of the night sky, slowly banishing the smattering of stars as it grew. Gazing out as she held a warm mug to her lips, Pam basked in the tingling spices of her white ginger tea and the sky before her. She placed her mug a foot or so from the cracked one, careful to make sure the handle was angled in contrast so she wouldn’t confuse the two mid-paint. Looking down at her empty palette, she reached for the tiny, depleted tubes that held little to no remnants of pigment within them. Pam stretched out her arm to her craft shears and snipped the creased end of three squashed, metallic containers and, pinching the edges to increase the opening, she spooned out what little remained of the paint with a worn-out brush. 

 
Payne’s Grey, Alizarin Crimson, and in anticipation of the daybreak, Brilliant Yellow gouache. Fresh starts called for fresh paints, she had decided, and it was payday! Pam could imagine no better way to celebrate than texturing opaque sunlight into a richly pigmented dawn. 

  

— -- — 

 
The whirl of her hard drive crackled in counterpoint with the soft rustle of air through the office’s ventilation system. It was 7:38 am and Pam was the sole occupant in the building, save for Hank of course. Drawn to the delicate quiet, it had become a routine for her in the past year to arrive early to the office. While it was no different than the subdued nature of her own apartment, it was also distinctly less lonesome. She couldn’t quite place why that was, although she suspected it had something to do with echoes of laughter that shuddered the walls and memories of lime Jell-O still lingering in the air. In any case, Pam regularly enjoyed a sense of peace in those mornings from which she could settle into a fresh cup of tea and check the phone messages without interruptions from Michael. 

 
This morning had seen an especially early arrival though. After completing the initial washes of mid-tones and setting her painting to dry for future shadows, Pam had thankfully managed to drift off for an hour or two of dreamless slumber. But as distant church bells beckoned the faithful’s first Angelus prayer, Pam was jolted awake by the incessant buzz of her cell phone clanging against the hardwood floors. Her hand made quick to scoop up the irritating brick, before she rolled her eyes as Roy’s name appeared once, twice...five times in a row. Pam grieved her lack of sleep with a hearty groan and her finger held the power button, silencing the phone indefinitely. Alas, she was awake again and so was her anxiety. 

 
So, just shy of two hours later, Pam was showered and dressed. Her hair was dried—not in tight, frizzy, curls, but sleek loose spirals that gently framed the curve of her jawline—and her make up brushed naturally over the contours of her face. She looked surprisingly good compared to how she felt, the four intermittent hours of sleep that she'd been blessed with doing understandably little for her general outlook. Pam hoped that Kelly's mantra of "you'll feel confident if you look hot" had some truth behind it. She would need it, after all, she was going to have to face all of them in the light of day following her outburst. Not to mention her glacial stare.

  

Pam shook away the disquieting thoughts and logged into her email. She was surprised to find a new message, not from Roy as she feared, but from Madeleine. 

  

— 

 

From: Madeleine Shay < m.shay@ marywood. edu > 

Date: Thursday, April 5th, 2007 10:23 PM EST   

To: Pam Beesly < pbeesly@ dundermifflin. com > 

Subject: Watercolor Classes 
 

Dear Pam, 

  

It was so wonderful to speak with you tonight and I hope you are enjoying a restful evening. Despite the class being a short, 12-week course, I was delighted by your extensive progress and I do hope you feel the same. I just wanted to follow up with some more information on the teaching opportunity we discussed earlier. 

  

As I mentioned before, these events take place every Friday at 8 pm at my off-campus studio, which I will include the address for in an attached flyer. Due to their popularity, we have also added alternating Saturday afternoons, at 3:30 pm. These tend to be made up of larger groups rather than couples; often we will have bachelorette parties and birthday celebrations which make these sessions quite a lot of fun. The next Saturday class will be on the 13th of April. 

  

All sessions last about two hours, although I would need you to be there to help me set things up around 7 pm on Fridays, 2:30 pm on Saturdays, and stay a short time afterward to assist in general clean up. As participants arrive, you will check them in, as everyone should have a prepaid reservation so that we don’t exceed capacity. Occasionally we have someone show up without a reservation, but I'll go over those situational details in-person. During classes, we will essentially co-teach; with one of us at the front demonstrating a walk-thru of the process, while the other circles the room to help and refill supplies as needed. As you become more comfortable with instruction, I'll have you demonstrate while I circle so that you feel solid should I need you to cover the class alone. If there is a weekend you are not available, that is completely fine. When possible, please provide me advance notice, as I intend to limit the class size on dates where only one of us is present. 

  

As far as compensation, I am able to offer you $20 per hour, which I realize given the sparse number of hours per week is not an especially large fee. However, my hope is to eventually expand the studio’s offerings both in quantity and diversity. I do not wish to speak prematurely, but should you find that you enjoy the work, and everything goes well—which I expect it will—I may be able to offer you a higher workload in the future. 
 

Now, this is quite last minute, so do not feel any obligation to say yes, but if this proposal entices you at all, I wanted to invite you to attend tonight's class. It would be valuable for you to see how things work and get your bearings. With the University of Scranton currently on Spring Break, I anticipate it being a rather quiet class. Again, no trouble if you cannot make it. 

  

So, let me know your thoughts, and please, if you have any questions whatsoever, don't hesitate to ask. 
 

Cheers, 

Madeleine 
 

Madeleine Shay, M.F.A. 

Adjunct Professor of Art and Illustration 

Marywood University 

  

— 

  

Her lips lightly curled as they pulsed against each word, silently reading the text to herself. It all seemed a bit too good to be true; too perfect of a fit. Pam had become so used to the mediocre crumble of everything in her life, that her eyes instinctively retraced the introduction, convinced she’d find another name addressed there. 

  

But there was only her name. And as she skimmed over the email again, her breath imperceptibly growing deep and quick in anticipation, the questions of self-doubt were forced to resign to the excitement blooming in her chest. Sandwiched between phrases of ‘thank you’s and formal niceties, her fingers danced out a reply before she could convince herself otherwise. “Yes, I’ll be there...” 

  

Pam buried her face into her hands, silently cursing the men in her life that robbed her of so much sleep. She would be dragging with fatigue come evening, she knew, but the realization that she would need this to look forward to was becoming clear; the arrival of her colleagues a simmering kettle in the back of her mind. She was assured in herself that she had done the right thing, at least where they were concerned, but that didn’t mean she was eager to face their reactions. 

  

Drifting from her hands, Pam’s head slunk down onto the cool vinyl of her desk. She basked in the calming sensation as her lids fluttered shut. 
 

“PAMELA MORGAN BEESLY, ARE YOU CONSCIOUS? DID YOU FAINT AGAIN? HAVE YOU OVERDOSED? WHAT KIND OF NARCOTICS ARE YOU ON?” 
 

"Jesus, Dwight!" Pam had nearly leaped out of her skin amidst Dwight's shouting. She swore she only lay there for a moment, but the next thing Pam knew, Dwight's voice was ringing in her ears. "I'm fine, I just didn't sleep well last night and got in early…I guess I drifted off." 

  

"Lack of sleep is not an excuse for workday fatigue," Dwight said matter-of-factly. 

  

Pam scoffed. “Well, luckily it’s not the workday for another…” she glanced at her watch, “oh, four minutes…” She now noticed that several of her workmates—Phyllis, Oscar, and Angela—had quietly entered the office, leaving her to sleep. 

  

“Thanks to me, otherwise you would have slept through the entire day, likely, and I would have to write you up for insubordination…” Dwight said smugly. “Face it, Pam. You owe me.” 

  

Pam glared at the man and his mustard shirt and his horridly matching tie. It was moments such as this one when she really wished she had her pranking comrade to do a royal number on the senior salesman. “Whatever, Dwight…” 
 

His beady eyes narrowed as he continued to look upon the receptionist, much to Pam’s annoyance. “Is there anything else I can help you with?” 

  

Dwight didn’t waste a second to respond. “Pam, I have no interest in art which is why I did not attend your art show last night. I find art frivolous and a waste of time that could be better spent perfecting the heirloom manure I use at Schrute Farms. Or in the case of last night, recreating some seriously killer jams. However…” Dwight paused before continuing more quietly. “I did not intend to hurt you or upset your extremely fragile, womanly emotions.” 

  

From anyone else, she would have been horrendously offended. But knowing Dwight as she did, Pam recognized these words to be the sincerest form of apology that he was capable of. “Oh that’s…that’s ok…” 

  

Without another word, Dwight nodded and turned on the spot, walking briskly to his desk. She watched him unpack his briefcase, trying to not think about what “heirloom manure” entailed, before turning her attention back to her computer. As she wiggled the mouse to wake the hard drive, she noticed that Madeleine had responded to her message. Her reply was written with a bright and bubbly enthusiasm that warmed Pam’s heart. Grinning to herself, she opened the attachment included in the previous email. 
 

A wine glass painted with polychromatic splashes of watercolor blossomed upon her screen. The kaleidoscope of pigments was overlaid with black text, reading "Sip, Sip, Monet!" in gentle, hand-lettered cursive. It was cute but elegant, a perfectly fitting advertisement and Pam expected nothing less from her instructor's event. Grabbing a piece of scratch paper from the recycling bin, she scribbled the necessary information and filed the page away in her purse. 
 

There are certain details that one can only learn about another human being through extensive time and attention. They cannot be admitted through conversation or witnessed on a whim. To anyone else they are tiny, indiscernible minutiae that pass through sensory filters without thought or care. But to those who have discovered and identified them—committing them to memory either subconsciously or otherwise—these intimate details are treasured knowledge that identify and ground them in authenticity. 

  

For Jim, it’s the tempo of his stride; the andante that chimes the keys that swing from his fingers. It is his fanfare, the theme song he inadvertently composed through habit and comfort. It announces his arrival, and for a long time, it was the overture to her smile. 

  

On this morning, it played a fugue; an unfamiliar countermelody interrupting his well-established subject, making Pam’s stomach curdle. She refused to learn this variation, having no desire to know how his keys harmonize with Karen’s. She was rigid, her bones locked in position, eyes gripping the screen of the computer as if under hypnosis. She counted the seconds as they passed, listening to the rustle of jackets being pulled from arms. Holding her breath, Pam waited for the pair to hang their belongings upon the coatrack behind her before proceeding to their desks. 

  

Karen entered her peripheral first, taking long, graceful strides past the receptionist, her silky hair lilting gently in her wake. Silence echoed cruelly behind her. She knew he was still there, skimming the perimeter of her space. Pam could feel his eyes kiss her neck and it made her want to throw up. She really needed to breathe. Gripping on to feigned bravery, Pam spun around in her chair. 
 

Their friendship had been a collection of tiny moments spent making the other laugh; quiet connections of knowing simpers and subtle glances. Yet when green met hazel now, there was no laughter, no jokes. The only mutual connection was one of pain and sorrow. What shocked Pam more than the intensity however, was that the bond existed at all anymore. 

  

“Pam-casso! Pamma Donna, you know like Prima Donna?" 

 
"Hi, Michael..." Pam tore her gaze from Jim's, addressing her boss who strode in with a happy jaunt. 

  

“So, do you have the painting? I thought we’d do a whole hanging ceremony and everything...” 

  

“Um, not yet, Michael...sorry. I’m planning on going to the art store over the weekend and I’ll get the supplies to frame it. So...Monday?” 

  

“Oh, well don’t you know, I have a frame just here....” Michael revealed a frame from beneath his arm. It was sleek and sophisticated, and she honestly wasn’t sure how Michael managed to get one since last night. Pam supposed his evening had not been nearly as exciting and still, she’d have traded it for hers in a heartbeat. 
 

“Oh...Michael, that’s amazing! Except my portfolio is at home...” 

  

A look that was only recognizable as utterly boyish, disappointment—a child being informed that the ice cream truck was out of everything but grape sherbet—painted Michael's face, and Pam momentarily considered offering to drive home. "I'm sorry, Michael… Monday, though, I promise." 

  

Michael nodded sadly as he sulked away and into his office. Pam instinctively made to roll her eyes at Jim, but found that he wasn’t looking at her. His sight was downcast and distant, and for the briefest second, Pam forgot her own bitterness and ache and wanted only to bring him back into her orbit again. But, giving an imperceptible shake of his head, Jim exhaled and walked away from her without a word. It was the most he had given to her in months, and it had been awful. What the hell? 

  

— -- — 

  

There was little opportunity for Pam to contemplate the odd interaction that morning. Michael immediately beckoned her into his office. He woefully explained that, in carrying in the “massive” picture frame, he had strained his hands. “Therefore,” Michael continued, “I need you to sign my signature on this quarter’s batch of inventory forms.” 

  

“How many are there?” Pam asked, not wanting to know the answer. 

  

“246 forms…to be done in duplicate…” 

  

Perfect. 

  

Much to her surprise, Phyllis approached her desk two hours into her signature extravaganza, offering to take a stack off her hands. It was a small gesture, but an appreciated one; and Pam knew it was her subtle way of apologizing for her absence the evening prior.  While the rest of the office remained distant, Pam found she didn't mind so much. She didn't need pomp and circumstance after all. She just needed to be treated as more than a shadow. 

 

— -- — 

 

Pam's hand was aching when the camera crew requested her presence in the conference room for a talking head. She rotated it around the joint, stretching out her fingers as she sat, waiting for the sound guy to set her mic.  

  

“So, we saw Roy’s outburst last night. Is this the end for Pam and Roy?” Brett, the senior producer asked as he skimmed a pad of paper for subjects he wanted to cover. 

  

Pam’s gaze narrowed upon the peppered haired man, annoyed by the predictable intrusion. “I’m sorry, I don’t really have much to say about it.” 

  

Her response was just measured enough that it was a second before Brett adjusted his narrowly framed glasses and looked up from his notes. “It was a pretty violent reaction to your discussion. Are you ok?” 

  

Pam knew what he was really asking, where this was heading: Did he hurt you? Has Roy been violent towards you in the past? Eventually arriving at, "Also, are you still in love with Jim? She was equally aware that her response mattered little; opinions had already been cast by both crew and likely the future audience. But she could control this if she played her cards right. She would just have to cast lines of interest elsewhere. “It was terrifying, but I’m really glad that is all over. And I am not responsible for his actions regardless of what I told him. That's all on Roy.” 

  

Brett’s eyes grew wide at her response. “You seem different, more grounded… We noticed you left the bar pretty angry last night yourself. We didn’t catch it, Matt was kind of cornered by Roy and our other camera was out of commission, but some of the staff mentioned you kind of let them have it.” 

  

Of course they did… “Well...yesterday was really hard, it really hurt that none of them showed up for my art show. And, not coincidentally, I have decided that I'm going to be more honest. I'm going to tell people what I want. Directly. I’m done being a doormat. So, look out world, cause ol' Pammy is getting what she wants." The words cascaded off her tongue in a dialect she did not recognize, yet one that felt entirely her own. “...And don’t call me Pammy.” 

  

Brett released a hearted laugh that trailed into his follow up question, “So it sounds like some good things came from all the mess?” 

  

Pam paused again, this time a light smile played on her lips. “I do think there will be some good that comes from it. You know, it’s not how I would have ever wanted it all to happen, gosh, not by a long shot. But in the end, it was eye-opening and I'll be stronger for it. Oh! And I have a new part-time job that I'm kind of starting tonight. So yes, things are looking up." 

  

“Oh? What is the new job?” Brett motioned to his assistant, Kayla—a mousy woman with pale features—to make sure she was making note of this. 

  

“I’m going to assist my art teacher, in some watercolor and wine classes.” Pam began, now grinning broadly. “Essentially, we’ll walk a group of adults through how to do a particular painting as they all get moderately intoxicated. And hopefully no one accidentally drinks the paint water.” 

  

She knew the documentary crew would just use it as a plot device; their interest was not in her as a person but as a subject. Even so, this was the first time she was able to share this news with a cognizant party and it filled her with emotion. "You know, I'm sure most art majors would find it beneath them, it's really not a serious gig or anything. But I'm excited about it. It should be a lot of fun!" 

  

“Do you have any teaching or related experience?” Kayla chimed in, and Brett responded with a silent thumbs-up and approving nod. 

  

Pam took that as a sign to answer the question, it was a fair one after all. “I guess I don’t really have much previous experience aside from my own art studies. Although I suppose I played a server of sorts for all of Roy’s Superbowl parties with the warehouse crew, so…I know I can pour drinks with the best of ‘em…” 

  

She chuckled darkly at her own joke and looked at Brett and Kayla, who both offered smiles that could easily have been mistaken for a cringe; pity marking their stare. Pam hid the slight embarrassment behind pursed lips and continued quickly. "And…I have assisted Michael plenty of times when Dunder Mifflin asked him to give presentations to other branches. I’m pretty sure some corporate newbie who’s never met Michael sees his long tenure and thinks he’s the perfect candidate to bestow wisdom on recent hires…Yeah, those haven’t gone terribly well either…” 

  

Pam nodded silently for a beat, reflecting on awkward memories of trudging through snowy car parks and into poorly lit conference rooms, heavy suitcases of Michael's paraphernalia in tow. She sighed audibly, unsure of how to get this talking head back on track. "I'm excited for this though. It should be better than either of those things I just talked about. And I'm hoping most things will be...better that is." 
 

— -- — 

 
Mace-tinged tears stained the skin that encircled her eyes. It was not immediately clear where emotional droplets began and chemically induced ones ended, but the effect was the same. Pam was crying. 

  

So was the rest of the office, a natural reaction to Dwight having just emptied an entire can of (what turned out to not simply be mace but) bear repellant spray into the office. It was supposed to have been directed at Roy; however, given the nature of bear repellant—it is after all intended for outdoor use to halt an, on average, 600-pound grizzly bear or "Ursus arctos horribilis”, as Dwight would ‘appropriately’ correct the camera crew during his talking head—it had acted like a teargas grenade, forcing everyone to flee the premises. Easier said than done, of course, what with most of them now temporarily blind and hacking on the searing aerosol that now coated their lungs. Eventually though, they all managed to walk, crawl—or be carried, in the case of Michael by Dwight—to the parking lot. 

  

The whole affair had been a scene straight out of a slapstick comedy. Pam would later admit to herself that, had it not been her ex-fiancé attacking the man she ostensibly had feelings for, she would have likely been laughing at the turn of events. But as she sat in the open hatchback of her car, speaking to the police officers for the third time in the hour since their arrival, she could not find a drop of humor in the evening. 

  

"Ok, thank you, Ms. Beesly. That concludes my questions for the time being." Officer Clark spoke gruffly as he had during the entire conversation. "Do you have anything you want to add to your official statement?" 

  

Pam shook her head, soaking up the remaining tears with the tissue she’d been offered. “No.” 

  

The second officer, a middle-aged woman with golden brown hair and grey eyes, placed her hand on Pam’s shoulder. “You have a place to stay, right?” 

  

She offered a nod as her only response. “Yeah, she said that they were separated.” Officer Clark reminded his partner. 

  

“Right, well here are both of our cards. If you think of anything else, you can dial directly to these numbers.” Pam weakly smiled in thanks and collected the two cards from the officer’s outstretched hand. 

  

The documentary intern, Chase, had been instructed to stop at a pharmacy and retrieve saline for the office; Kevin having already exhausted the office’s first aid supply into his own eyes. Pam observed him from across the lot, as he approached each of her colleagues who stood around the building entrance. Each took the bottles graciously, except for Jim, who passed his bottle to Karen and gestured his decline of the second one Chase offered him. 
 

She stared at Jim, both seeing and not seeing him across the space that separated them; a hazy reality encircling her sight. Is courage measured in honesty or in letting go? Whether it was courage or fatigue or pure adrenaline, an impulse bloomed deep within her to tell Jim, explain everything, apologize and lay it all out on the table, right there in that godforsaken parking lot. Scooting off the bumper and shutting the trunk, Pam began to walk towards the crowd, her gaze dead set on his tousled locks.  

 

But as she passed Michael's Sebring, a reflective flash caught her attention, and she performed an about-face. “Hey Pam, wait up…” Kayla called after the receptionist and she quickly ended her interview with Michael. Pam made no attempt to turn back, heading directly for her vehicle. “Hey wait!” 

  

Arriving at the driver’s door she fumbled with her keys, cursing the lack of a remote lock. She heard them around the corner of her car just as the key found its way into the slot and with a quick twist, she threw open the door. “Pam, just hold on for one second…” 

  

Damn it. Her left hand gripped the top of the car door as she tossed her purse and mace-saturated sweater across the center console, before pausing, not looking back at the woman. 

  

Pam could hear the hesitation in Kayla’s breath before she spoke again. “Listen…I know this was shitty. I mean, I know things have been hell for you since last May…” 

  

Her mouth curved wryly, and she snorted on a sardonic laugh. “I’m sure it’s made for great television though,” knowing the truth before she heard the silent reply. Pam rotated to face Kayla with impatience set in her jaw. 

  

The look was not lost on the young assistant. “Look, you know we’re going to have to talk to you about this, and Brett...he’s great, but you know he’ll push you harder for more details if you wait.” 

  

Pam rolled her eyes and sighed, shaking her head lightly before Kayla gave her pitch in calm even tones. “We can do a really quick interview, just you and I. In the alley around back, away from everyone. Five minutes, three questions tops.”  

  

She contemplated the offer, knowing they’d likely try to hold her there until Brett finished interviewing Dwight if she refused. “Fine…” her reply came in a whisper. 

  

Kayla nodded encouragingly, before gesturing to Matt, the cameraman, to move. "Ok…we'll get set up around the corner." 
 

Pam nodded. “I just have to put fresh contacts in, I’ll be right there.” She indicated to the contacts case she was holding before dipping into the seat of her Yaris. Leaving the door ajar, Pam sifted in her purse while making occasional glances into her rear-view mirror. She watched Kayla and Matt slowly make their way to the edge of the lot before rounding the corner into the alley. That was her cue. 
 

Pam slammed the door shut and threw the contacts case in her bag, having already replaced the pepper-soaked ones earlier. Her fingers did not fumble this time, as the key hit the ignition in unison with her foot on the clutch. Shifting quickly into reverse and then drive, Pam sped to the exit of the lot. Ignoring the furrowed brows of her colleagues, she laughed lightly as she distantly saw Kayla peer around the corner; the woman’s confused face morphing into one of annoyed amusement in her rear-view mirror. 


 

End Notes:

Thank you for reading, I’d love to know your thoughts! I hope I’m not plodding along too slowly or being too introspective with Pam. I got really into my own head last week—a lot of “If I’m not boring them with the plot, I’m definitely will be with this asinine email” shenanigans—which delayed posting for a bit. Anyways, I think with things a bit more established, the plot will start to pick up more. At least that is my hope. In any case, thanks for trudging along with me. 

This story archived at http://mtt.just-once.net/fanfiction/viewstory.php?sid=5941