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A/N: Thank you to Deedldee and MilkandSugar for their help, suggestions, and encouragement :)

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Affirmations

She tries not to let it bother her—and most days, it doesn't—but having gained almost twice as much weight during her second pregnancy as she did during her first, it can sometimes be difficult to ignore her new post-baby body. It occasionally strikes her as she looks through her closet for something to wear or catches herself in a mirror, and it causes her to be a little self-conscious when dressing or undressing in front of her husband. Usually, though, the feeling doesn't last. And usually, when Angela makes some obnoxious reference to baby weight or dieting while at work, she can just roll her eyes; after all, she would much rather be a little chubby and married to Jim than stick-thin and married to a man who only pretends to love her.

But today is different. From her morning decision to step on the bathroom scale for the first time in a couple weeks to fastening her belt on the second-to-last notch to being tempted by mini-cupcakes that Phyllis made, it is just one thing after another.

And then, of course, there is Angela.

"I don't understand why everyone makes such a fuss about losing weight after having a baby," she says aloud in the kitchen as Pam stands making tea, "Philip is three months old, and I already weigh three pounds less than I did before I got pregnant."

That comment sets the stage for a day full of unnecessary remarks that sting more than usual—things like, "No, thank you. I'm watching my figure" and "Really, Pam? Is that your second cupcake?"

All of it weighs on her mind throughout the day, and with Jim out of the office for most of the morning and afternoon meeting with clients, there is no one around for a reassuring glance, an encouraging word, or a comforting hug, any of which she really could use.

She feels so crushed and defeated and generally down on herself. She's trying to lose the weight—she really is—but it's just not happening. Rationally, she knows that she is still smaller than the average American woman, but that fact doesn't make her feel any better when she can't fit into her favorite skirt or Angela is not-so-subtly shaming her for eating a tiny cupcake. It hurts, and by the time she arrives home, there is a lump in her throat that even her sweet little girl and boy can't make go away, so she complains of a headache that she doesn't actually have and goes to lie down.

Fortunately, her husband knows her well enough to know that something is up and allows her to rest while he occupies the babies and makes dinner. He even insists on taking care of bedtime for their eldest so that she can take a hot bath, and for all of that, she is so grateful. It just hasn't been a good day, and maybe all she needs is a nice long soak and a good night's rest to feel like herself again.

So after Philip is fed and asleep and after she kisses Cece goodnight, she decides to go for it. She loves the bathtub in the master bathroom and doesn't often have the time to enjoy it now that she has two children. It's a spa tub that Jim's parents had installed as part of a bathroom remodel about six years ago, and it may very well be her favorite feature of the house.

As water fills the tub, she walks barefoot to the bathroom counter to remove her contacts but instead first ends up pausing to look at her reflection in the mirror. At least her face looks mostly normal again, she decides. Everything else… not so much.

She turns to the side and sucks in her stomach, lifting her shirt up part way to see if she can catch the smallest glimpse of what her body used to be, but it's just different. Her hips look wider, her waist isn't as defined, her stomach protrudes, and the skin sags a little. It's not pretty. It's not her. She can't help but think to herself that she looks as fat as she feels right now and that maybe Angela has a point, so she opts not to put on her glasses after she takes her contacts out and undresses. She would much prefer five blurry steps back to the tub than further criticizing the rest of herself under the harsh bathroom lights.

She knows that it shouldn't matter. She knows she could look much worse, but by the time she sinks into the water, she is near tears, and as the minutes pass, she finds that quiet time in the bath alone with her thoughts may not have been the best idea.

"Well, after two books and a song, Cece is finally—" Jim stops mid-sentence when he enters a while later and notices the stricken look on her face. "Babe?"

She shakes her head and waves him off.

"Hey," he says, his voice cracking with concern as he sets both baby monitors on the bathroom counter. "What's going on?"

She's so embarrassed by her feelings and her current physical state that she isn't sure she's ready to discuss anything before a having a good cry, but as Jim gets closer, everything just comes spilling out.

"I'm fat," she admits tearfully. "And I know it's stupid to compare myself to Angela, but how can you look at me next to her and not think, 'Wow, my wife is enormous'?"

"Oh, Pam, no," he tells her gently, moving to sit on the tile ledge surrounding the tub. "No. Where is this coming from? Did she say something to you?"

"Just stupid little things, but she's right; I'm huge. I'm never going to lose this weight. By the time Cece was Philip's age, I could wear most of my regular clothes again, but I'm nowhere near that now. I'm never going to be the same size again. I have almost twenty extra pounds that aren't going anywhere, and I'm just… gross. My boobs are so big that they hurt my shoulders and my back, and they're going to look terrible when I'm done nursing. My stomach is all deflated and covered in stretch marks. My waist is non-existent; it just goes from my fat stomach to my fat ass, fat thighs, and fat everything."

"Okay, first of all, we are throwing away that scale."

"We can't throw away mirrors," she mumbles, feeling as vulnerable and exposed as can be as she sits in the transparent water of the tub pouring out her insecurities. She can't even look at him.

"Whoa, hey, no, Pam, you are beautiful. Beautiful, okay? I mean, I just look at you sometimes, and I have to fight with every ounce of my self-control to keep my hands off you. I'm not even kidding,"

"Jim—"

"No, listen. Babe, I am so incredibly attracted to you. You are the best wife and the best mother, and everything you just mentioned… Pam, I wish you could see what I see. Like, your ass is fantastic," he explains, immediately feeling a little embarrassed for being so blunt. "Sorry. That sounded awkward, but when I just said I have a hard time keeping my hands off of you? That's part of the reason. And your boobs? This is a little selfish, too, but once I'm allowed to reclaim that territory, I seriously doubt it will be any less enjoyable to me than before," he confesses with a smirk before growing more serious, cupping her tear-stained cheek with his hand. "As for your stomach… Honey, you carried our babies in there, and I can't… God, stretch marks or not, I can't think of anything more amazing than that."

"I just don't look like me anymore, and I-I don't…" She sniffles as his hand slides around to her upper back. "I don't like it. And I want to look nice for you, too, you know? I don't look how I did when we first got together, and I don't want people to see us and say, 'Oh, there's Jim Halpert and his fat wife.'"

He knows he shouldn't laugh over something she is genuinely worried about, but with those last eight words, he can't help it.

"Okay, just so you know, if someone actually said that I would have to physically hurt them because it's just not true. And honestly? Pam, you are prettier than the day I met you, and I was in love with you all the way back then, too. I love you so much. I love the way you look, and I don't want you to think for a second that you're fat or unattractive because you are perfect, okay? I feel lucky every day that I got to marry such an awesome girl."

"Thank you," she squeaks through a watery smile. "I'm really lucky, too."

He kisses her forehead and smiles; he's got one more thing that he wants to tell her.

"And hey, forget about Angela. She might be proud of herself for being so skinny, but also remember that she only spent four days with her baby before dumping him on a nanny. I mean, who does that? Her Philip probably doesn't even know who his mother is, but our Philip? You are his favorite person. He knows you and loves you, and he doesn't care what you look like because you are his mom and you make him feel safe. You were around for every minute of the first eight weeks of his life, and just think about what he was like today when we picked him up from your mom's. Pam, that kid was so happy to see you that he wanted nothing to do with me. Not gonna lie—I was a little jealous."

She grins, remembering the way her baby boy's face lit up when she took him from her mother's arms earlier that evening. He giggled his sweet little baby giggle and buried his face between her neck and shoulder, cuddling as closely as he could manage.

"He's gonna be a mama's boy," she sighs fondly.

"Well, speaking as someone whose brothers have labeled him that way, I think I can say from experience that those kind of boys have the potential to grow up to be really awesome men."

"Obviously."

"Room for one more?" He raises his eyebrows suggestively before quickly shaking his head when he realizes he may have overstepped. "Or do you just, uh, I mean… I'll be on my best behavior. We don't have to—"

"Relax. Come on in." She smiles and slides forward. "I need a shoulder massage."

He grins and pulls his shirt over his head.

"So demanding, Pamela," he laughs before taking off the rest of his clothes and stepping into the tub. "Damn. The water is nice."

"I love your parents for deciding to remodel this bathroom two years before selling us the house," she says as he slides in behind her.

"Yikes. Let's not talk about them right now," he cringes, wrapping his arms around her and letting her head rest on his shoulder. "You good?"

"Yeah," she almost whispers as she closes her eyes to relax. "Thank you. For everything you said, I mean. You always know what to say to me."

"I'm just telling the truth. I'm crazy about you, Mrs. Halpert."

She kisses his jawline and settles back against him to enjoy each other's company and the quiet of the house.

After a few minutes, though, his fingers begin to absentmindedly trace over the skin on her arms, eventually trailing over her neck and then more purposefully across her cheek. He didn't mean to start anything, but laying here with her soft body pressed against him in the warmth of the bubbling water, it feels impossible not to. He can't control himself.

And neither can she.

She turns slowly to face him, her hands gliding over his chest, over his broad shoulders, her water-logged fingers moving into his hair as she kisses him— softly and controlled at first, quickly escalating until one of her hands wanders beneath the water to grasp him.

"Babe… uh…"

"Shh…"

"You don't—"

"Are you seriously refusing this?"

"N-no."

"I want to do this for you. You always make me feel good. I want to make you feel good, too."

"Every day, Pam. Every day you make me feel good."

He can't manage another word, his head dropping back onto the ceramic ledge as his breath quickens and her fingers continue their movements. Eventually, he insists that they take things elsewhere, and soon they are tracking wet footprints towards their bed.

Later when they are wrapped up in their bed sheets with their fingers and legs tangled, they laugh lightly, their wide grins matching.

"I really should have learned my lesson by now that I can't get into a tub or shower with you without something happening," he jokes.

"Well, that one was my fault, but personally, I'm glad you haven't learned that lesson."

He hugs her close, and she kisses his bare shoulder.

"I didn't say those things just so this would happen, though. I meant every word."

"I know." She sighs contently in his arms, feeling so relaxed, so loved, so safe… and also a little mischievous. While the past hour has been wonderful and has drastically changed her mood, everything has been a little too serious, and they wouldn't be them without some humor thrown in. "So, uh, I was thinking…"

"Yeah?"

She looks up at him with a straight face.

"Do you think your parents ever tried to have sex in that tub?"

His face contorts in disgust, and she stifles a laugh.

"Oh, God. Gross. I take it back, Pam. All that nice stuff I said? I take it all back."

"No, you don't," she laughs through what he thinks is an adorably smug smile.

"Yeah," he agrees with a shrug. "I don't."

Chapter End Notes:
Trying to do my part to keep the archive going. Thanks for reading :)


more_awake is the author of 7 other stories.
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