Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Wish I did, but all characters are property of TPTB. No copyright infringement intended. I'm just having fun.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Wish I did, but all characters are property of TPTB. No copyright infringement intended. I'm just having fun.
The rain really started coming down as she drove past the Montclair exit. With only a hint of annoyance, Pam realized that she was already more than halfway to Scranton. She’d have to give Jim a hard time about that, she thought. Maybe she’d make him buy lunch, even though she’d wager he was planning on it. She couldn’t tell what he was up to, exactly. She missed him and was frustrated that they’d gone so long without seeing each other, but meeting up at Exit 17 wasn’t exactly the reunion she was hoping for. Pam smiled a little as she changed lanes, thinking about that weekend a few weeks ago.
Jim had driven up on impulse to take her out to dinner that Friday night. She was planning on driving to Scranton to see him Saturday morning, and was about to go to bed so she could get an early start, when she heard a knock on her door. She had barely opened it when she felt her feet leave the floor. The arms around her waist belonged to Jim, who was kissing her like he hadn’t done… since the prior weekend. He hadn’t shaved that morning, as evidenced by the stubble that was scratching her face. He put her back down on the ground, but wouldn’t let her go. She asked him what he was doing in her room on a Friday night at 9:30. He smiled. He was still holding her when he asked her to get dressed for dinner. Pam had to point out that it would be difficult changing clothes with him attached to her. He reluctantly let her go, and sat on her bed. She could feel his eyes on her as she moved around the small room. She couldn’t believe he’d driven up so late.
“So where are you taking me?” she asked, wondering what she should wear. She was staring at her closet, hoping the restaurant wouldn’t be too fancy. She hadn’t done her laundry in a while.
“Honestly, I hadn’t thought that far ahead,” he replied. “Michael spent most of the afternoon talking to me in his office about Holly and how I need to find someone to make my life complete, and I knew I had to get out of there and see you. I don’t care where we eat. Anything you want?”
“Eh, I had a sandwich earlier from the Student Center. Maybe something light?” She started to get dressed in her favorite jeans and a fitted blue t-shirt. She glanced in the mirror and realized that her hair was a mess, but was relieved that she hadn’t taken her contacts out yet. She put her hair up in a ponytail and was reaching for her shoes when she felt Jim’s hands on her hips. She stood up and he put his arms around her again, and buried his head in her neck. “Or we could just get take out,” she muttered. He nodded in agreement and kissed her neck. She turned around and told him about the Chinese restaurant on the corner that was open late. She mentioned the video store that was about a block away as a way of asking if he was staying, or heading back late tonight. He said a movie would be good, and she knew he was hers for at least the night. She wondered if he’d packed a bag though, since he’d told her it was an impromptu trip. She was about to inquire when he asked how long he could stay. He didn’t want to interrupt her work, he said.
“Um, well… I was actually planning on driving down to see you in the morning. I forgot a few things at your place last weekend, and I need them for a project. I was hoping to stay the weekend at your apartment. I mean, I’m so glad you’re here, but I still need those supplies. So I don’t know. Maybe I could follow you back tomorrow?”
“I didn’t bring anything. I was thinking we could go shopping tomorrow so I wouldn’t be stuck in this suit all weekend, but that works better. But don’t follow me. I’ll drive,” he said. She quickly agreed, remembering how much she hated that drive.
She grabbed her bag and headed for the door, with her man right behind her. He pulled the door shut before grabbing her hand. A few minutes later they were staring up at a brightly lit menu with pictures of food swimming in sauces.
“Kung pao or Orange chicken?” he asked her. She looked up at him and smiled. “Garlic Chicken,” she told the young boy behind the steam case. She grinned a little as she realized he was thinking about later, and while she loved messing with him, she wondered if a deli wouldn’t have been a better choice. Jim ordered beef and broccoli and some lo mein, and within a few minutes they were back on the street.
A fight nearly broke out in the video store. He refused to watch Legally Blonde with her and attempted to convince her that it was a night for a classic, like So I Married an Axe Murderer. Pam argued that they had rented it two months ago, and if she wasn’t mistaken, he had a copy of it at home. He accused her of being an art snob, and the immediately retracted the statement, remembering her earlier choice. Playful jabbing ensued, and the clerk glared at them from behind the counter. Jim grabbed Annie Hall, and leaned in to Pam. “Its not like we’re really going to watch it anyway, right?” She blushed a little and walked up to the counter. Pam paid for the movie because Jim didn’t have a membership and they walked back to her dorm room. The night air had cooled a bit since they left the restaurant, and Pam shivered a little. Jim put his arm around her and she felt warmer instantly. If not warmer, more secure at least. They walked in silence, taking in all the sounds of the city. Pam couldn’t help but smile, being there with him. She knew it wasn’t a place he loved, but he was there for her, and that meant something. The reached her building and went upstairs. The food was still hot and tasted good, despite being cheap. They sat side by side on the bed, Jim awkwardly wielding his chopsticks. She laughed and kissed him quickly, before taking a bite of the garlic chicken. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Jim looking at her. A slight smile played at her lips as she took another bite. She was hungry and knew it wouldn’t be too much longer before the food was set aside and the movie forgotten.
She woke up in his arms early the next morning. It was nice that he was there, but in truth, it wasn’t all that comfortable. He was curled up a bit and Pam felt like she was teetering on the edge of her bed. Despite wanting to stay in his arms, she got up. She knew they’d be curled up together that night, on his much bigger bed. So she got up and headed to the bathroom to take a quick shower. When she got back to her room, Jim was up and dressed, putting the movie back in its case to be dropped off at the video store on their way out of the city. She needed to pack a bag but soon they were ready to go, and after a quick walk to the video store, they found themselves in Jim’s car, headed back home.
They discussed her Typographic Design class on their way back to Scranton. She couldn’t believe how frustrating it was, the subtle differences in text. Jim nodded, but she could tell he had no idea what she was rambling about. She loved that he cared though. She asked him about his brothers, realizing that the time would soon come when she would meet them. She was excited about it, but a little anxious. Jim assured her again that they would love her. What’s not to love, he said. She asked about the office, but noted that Jim seemed a little less enthusiastic about it than he used to. She imagined that it would be tough to be less enthusiastic about Dunder Mifflin than he already was. The whole office was consumed with the weight loss thing, he said. It wasn’t much fun to prank Dwight right now, especially since there was no one else to get the joke. She decided to change the subject. She could hear in his voice how much he missed her being at work with him. She thought about that a little. To spend nearly every moment with him and have him want to see her more was something that took some getting used to. She felt it as well, but not as much as Jim did, she knew. Pam was fine with some space, and Jim was very supportive of that, but she knew he’d be content to always be there with her.
They pulled into Jim’s parking space, got their stuff together, and went in to his apartment.
“Hey Jim, have you been to the store since last week? You have no food.”
“Nah, I’ve been trying to lose weight, remember?” he smirked.
“Oh, right. Well, I’m starving.”
“Ugh, no. Ohh, how about Glider? I haven’t been there in forever.”
Jim agreed and got in the shower to get cleaned up. Pam looked around at the very familiar apartment, and tried to imagine more of her stuff in this space. It was a nice enough apartment, but it wasn’t very big. Her place was smaller though, and Jim’s neighborhood was nicer. She noticed he’d put some of her sketches up on the walls since she was last here. He must have found her sketchbook. She was a little embarrassed but loved that he did it. She was helping herself to some orange juice when Jim came back into the kitchen.
“Ready to go?” he asked. She nodded and gulped down the juice. He laughed as she put the glass in the sink. She loved how he looked fresh out of the shower. His hair was still messy, like he ran a towel through it and went. He was wearing that faded green Sox shirt that she loved, his only betrayal to Pennsylvania sports teams. He’d been to a game in June with his brothers, who gave him a hard time about rooting for Boston. She had wanted to go with him, but an old friend had a baby shower that day. He told her all about the game the next night, and she promised she’d go to the next one. He patiently explained that it would probably be a long time before the Phillies played the Sox again. She was a little relieved. Sox fans sounded pretty rowdy to her, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to get back into watching sports with a crowd like that.
They slid into a booth at the Glider and ordered some food. Things got quiet after lunch arrived. Jim had a look on his face that told her that he was thinking about the future. She still hadn’t worked up the nerve to ask if he was going to propose the night of Toby’s goodbye party. She didn’t want to hear it if he hasn’t been planning on it. She asked Jim what he was thinking about.
“Us,” he replied. She waited for him to elaborate. He didn’t.
“Jim.” She didn’t know where to go from there. “I know this is tough, me being away. I love being at school, but I don’t love that. The being away.”
“So just a few more weeks. Then we can figure out us, ok?”
Jim looked up. “Is there still stuff to figure out?”
Pam sat frozen for a moment. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, I still want to marry you. I told you that. You want to marry me, right?”
She breathed again. “Yes.” She got quiet for a moment, then, “Jim. I want to marry you, but I don’t want to be engaged yet. I mean, I do, but that’s going to suck, being apart while we’re engaged. It sucks now, but I think that would be worse. Plus, I don’t want to be engaged for a long time. You know. And I don’t think I’m going to have lots of time to plan a wedding in between classes. And then there’s the whole, I’m broke thing. So, maybe, can we wait until I get back?”
Jim looked a little uneasy as he said, “Sure. I mean, it makes sense. We can wait awhile. So probably good that I didn’t ask you the night of Toby’s party, huh?” That stung a bit but Pam didn’t press the issue further. She really didn’t know what to say. She could see the regret on his face from that last comment. She knew he was agreeing because of her, but could sense that he wasn’t jumping up and down about the idea of waiting. She made some small talk while Jim wolfed down his cheeseburger and fries.
When they got back to Jim’s place, Pam asked if she could borrow his car to run over to her apartment. She hadn’t been there in a few weeks, and wanted to check on some stuff. He agreed, gave her a small kiss and told her to be safe. She drove over with the radio off, thinking about what they had discussed. As much as she knew what she wanted, she knew she wanted to be with Jim even more, and hoped that she hadn’t pushed him too far. She didn’t feel like they were delicate, but their relationship was a long time coming and they’d been through a lot. Maybe her old hang-ups shouldn’t affect the way she dealt with Jim. She let herself into the apartment and was greeted by the musty smell of a room that hadn’t had fresh air in weeks. She sat down on the couch to think.
Her phone rang at 3:30. It was Jim. She’d fallen asleep. Crap. “Jim? I’m sorry, I dozed off.”
“Its ok, are you alright?”
“Yeah, I just need to grab some stuff, and I’ll be back soon. Love you.”
“Love you too.”
She got up and went to her room to grab some more clothes and a few art supplies she had buried at the bottom of her closet. About 20 minutes later she was loading them into Jim’s car, and started to drive back home. To his place. She wondered why she was continuing to pay rent on her place. They weren’t engaged, but that was probably her fault at this point. She couldn’t really afford rent and tuition, so Jim was helping her out as much as he could. Her savings were drying up fast. She remembered the conversation they had after she set Michael up with her landlady, and knew she couldn’t ask Jim if she could move in, at least, not now. Not after the conversation in the diner. She pulled into Jim’s parking space and began lugging her stuff upstairs. She was planning on starting a load of wash to get the musty smell out of her clothes, feeling a little like a kid going home from college for the weekend, using up her parent’s machines. She knew Jim didn’t mind though. He hated that she was back to using laundromats. She opened the door with her key, and set her stuff on the floor. When she looked up, Jim was there kissing her. She relaxed into his arms a bit as they kissed. When he pulled away, he told her that it was fine, he was really ok with waiting. He said that he knew it really made sense. She felt trapped by her own words for a second. She didn’t really want to ask more of him than she already had, but it was done. She kissed him again, and let him take her back into his bedroom.
She insisted on cooking something for dinner, so they went to the store. They decided on grilling some chicken and asparagus and making some rice. Jim threw a pint of Chubby Hubby in the cart and grinned at Pam. She grabbed a bag of red vines and it joined the ice cream. It was looking like another movie night.
Jim was outside grilling the chicken and Pam was in the kitchen cooking the rice. She liked making meals with Jim like this, together. When the food was done, they sat down on the couch and watched Dazed and Confused because Jim’s collection of movies isn’t terribly original and they didn’t want to go out to Blockbuster. They cleaned up together after the movie ended, then she decided she’d sketch for a while. A couple months back they had been to Salt Springs State Park together, and she really liked the waterfalls. She started a rough sketch of the third one they’d seen, when Jim came back into the room. She liked to sketch on the floor, so he sat on the couch behind her, reading. It was a well worn copy of High Fidelity that she’d seen him read a few times over the years, but he seemed to like going back to that book. She hoped it didn’t have any real significance. She’d liked the movie well enough, but didn’t get why he actually laughed out loud at the book, despite having read it so many times. He told her that the book just made more sense than the movie, that London in the 80s was a far better setting than Chicago in the 90s. She sketched and he read until well after midnight, when they decided it was time for bed.
She changed into one of his old, comfy shirts and climbed in. There was something about the mood that night, it seemed like they just needed to be close and fall asleep together. It might not be sexy, she thought, but it was definitely romantic.
“Morning,” he whispered to her as she stirred. She sat up slowly and stretched. “Hi,” she said. He kissed her on the forehead and got up to make some coffee. She stretched again and lay back down. She wasn’t sure she was quite ready to be up yet. Jim came back in the room 10 minutes later with a cup of coffee, milk and sugar with a sprinkle of cinnamon that he’d started keeping in the house since she started spending the night.
“Are we staying in bed all day, or should we do some of that laundry you brought over?” he asked.
She yawned and took a sip out of the mug he handed her. “Yum. Yeah, ok, I’ll get up.” She got up and grabbed a pair of basketball shorts out of Jim’s dresser. She put them on and headed to the front door where she’d dumped her stuff the night before. He was already in the laundry closet starting the water and adding detergent. She kissed him when she got there, and started loading the clothes in the machine. “So what else do you want to do today?” she asked.
“Well, I was thinking we could have some lunch before we drive back up. I know you have class in the morning, and I don’t remember you telling me that you finished your project.”
“Oh crap. I forgot. Yeah, I need to spend a few hours on that tonight. I’m sorry. I should have finished days ago.” She was frustrated that she’d forgotten her plan to spend most of Sunday working on it. More than that though, she hated to leave Jim for school again. She knew he understood. But still, they didn’t have the most smooth weekend ever, and now its getting cut a bit short.
They had finished up Pam’s laundry and packed it up when Jim told her that maybe they should get going so she’d have enough time to do the assignment. She agreed, but could tell that he wasn’t loving the idea of taking her back to New York. She was about to suggest that she take a train when he said that at least they have the car ride together. She smiled.
They were driving up the New Jersey Turnpike when Jim noticed he was low on gas. A small green sign promised a gas station at Exit 17, so Jim turned off the highway. He went inside the store to pay for the gas and get some drinks for the rest of the ride. Pam sat fidgeting in the front seat. This weekend hadn’t gone as she’d planned, and could feel the tension in the car. Jim came out of the store, opened the door, and tossed her the bag with two grape sodas in it. He turned on the car, and asked her to give him one of the drinks. She complied, and when he opened it, the whole thing fizzed up and t-shirt and shorts. Pam’s hand flew up to her mouth to stop from laughing. She looked over at Jim who was barely holding it together. She wasn’t sure if he was going to laugh or cry, when a huge smile broke on his face. He couldn’t stop laughing, and neither could she. It was perfect. He was drenched and his white shirt was now splattered with purple. Soda was dripping off his face, and all Pam could do was double over and laugh. She handed him some napkins he’d kept in the glove box, and he dried off as best he could. She kissed him, and he kissed her back, and suddenly it felt like all the tension that had been building over the weekend was suddenly gone.
They drove back up to New York, where he said he loved her, and drove right back to Scranton, still covered in purple stains.
Pam pulled into the gas station at Exit 17 smiling. It was raining so hard, but she could see Jim’s car. She was so happy to see him.
“ Hey! This is not half-way! I did the math. I had to drive way longer than you. Montclair would have been closer, so you have to buy lunch.”
Her eyes narrowed a bit as Jim got down on one knee. “What are you doing?”
“I just... couldn't wait.”
“Oh my God!”
“Pam, will you marry me?”
“Oh my God!”
Chapter End Notes:
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