If you had told Pam that she would be spending her New Year’s Eve in Michael Scott’s home, she would have laughed at you.
Michael and Holly’s new house in Boulder is far nicer than she’d expected, and this fact alone makes her reevaluate her long-standing perception of her former boss. She suspects that most of the furnishings are a result of Holly’s stylistic influence, but the evidence of Michael is in the Dundies spread across the coffee table, the mug drying in the dish rack, the neon beer sign hanging in the garage. Every surface of the house seems to be littered with framed photographs of their family that catch the dancing light cast by candles with names such as “Monkey Farts” and “Schnitzel with Noodles”. Even without his physical presence, every room of their suburban homes feels like Michael.
Now, Pam takes a sip from her champagne flute and marvels at the scene unfolding before her. The room is warm and bright with laughter and conversation as her old coworkers exchange stories over the hum of the television and platters of appetizers.
She’s struck with a heavy sense of nostalgia as she watches these people that she has spent so many years of her life with fall back into place with ease. Dwight and Angela bicker over a potential ski trip that Michael has suggested, but she notices with a smile that Angela’s temper has lost some of its malice. Andy strums on a guitar, switching between chords as he squints at a stray piece of sheet music. Stanley’s fallen asleep on the couch, his half-full glass of red wine beside him. She feels as though no time has passed at all.
Her husband is the center of a loose gathering, gesturing animatedly as he tells what she presumes to be the story of Philip swallowing a plastic shoe, or the one where Cece steals her bag of makeup, or the one where they get lost in Virginia and spend the night camping in the woods. He is quick on his feet, all easy confidence and good-natured humor, and she bites her lip as his latest comment is met with a wave of appreciative laughter.
Holly enters the room with a fresh tray of fruit and a new bottle of champagne, and the group disperses in favor of filling their plates and glasses. Pam sets her glass in the sink and catches Jim’s attention with a hand to his elbow, firm and insistent. He raises his eyebrows but says nothing as she leads him down an unfamiliar hallway.
She opens the first door on the right, and when he turns to her in confusion, she presses a hand to his chest and backs him up into the closet, dragging the door shut behind her. In the humid quiet, her heartbeat feels amplified as coarse wool and soft cotton press against her sides.
“Aren’t we a little old to be making out in the closet?” he asks breathlessly, and she can feel the heat of his question against her lips.
In response, she rises up on her toes and leans against him, lets herself revel in the feeling of their bodies flush against one another. She cannot see him, but she is certain she could draw his face from memory. His eyes would be dark, even in the absence of the shadow, pursuing her with desire. His cheeks would be flushed and his lips would be parted, for he has grown to anticipate her movements, and his body reacts instinctively to her own.
She runs her hands down his sides, feeling the muscles ripple beneath her fingertips as she brings brings them to rest on his hips, tangles them in his belt loops.
“Pam?” His voice cracks.
She takes his face between her hands and kisses him soundly, smiling into his surprise as he makes a sound somewhere between a moan and a growl that comes from deep within throat. She feels the vibrations low in her belly and lets the warmth spread through her. His hands slip into her hair, and she worries for a moment that her disheveled curls will give them away, but his tongue grazes her lower lip and she forgets what decade it is, lets the two they have shared blur together beneath his fingertips, his tongue.
When she draws back, they are both short of breath, and she lets her forehead rest against him, feels the hammering of his heart reverberate through her chest.
“I spent so long not being able to do that,” she admits to the hollow of his throat, “I remember so many nights just like this one where all I wanted to do was kiss you. Even after all these years, I can’t believe I get to do this.”
For a moment, she feels the conflict within him as he searches for a way to articulate his response, and the silence between them stretches as the countdown begins, the walls around them echoing with the steady anticipation.
Finally, he leans down and kisses her so tenderly that her knees buckle beneath her. Her whole body curves into him as she succumbs to his want. He kisses her as though he never intends to stop.
A world away, the ball is dropping and coworkers are cheering and one year is falling into the next, but inside a tiny closet, time pauses for two people who have found something worth celebrating.