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Author's Chapter Notes:

Finished "Couple's Discount", which was a lot of fun to write and what ends up shaping the events of the AU.  "Moving On" is going to be a challenge, since very few moments from the canon episode will take place.  (It's probably my least favorite, only worth it for Bob Odenkirk's Mark Franks.)

Enjoy! 

“This is an amazing prize.  I mean I dont even want to give Pam a compliment because shes so bleh, but she did a good job.  I really want that coupon book.” — Angela Martin


Andy is still on his boat trip.  It’s Week 13.


—————————————————————————————————————————————


“Have you seen Darryl?” Nellie asks Erin as she approaches the front desk.


“He’s around here somewhere,” Erin answers.


“Hm,” Nellie responds as she leaves… while the camera catches Erin’s knowing grin.


“Yeah, Darryl’s here,” Erin explains to Brent, “So is Santa Claus.  It’s just a regular Thursday.”  After she checks if other people are listening, she leans in and tells him, “Neither guy is here.  And, it’s Friday.  Welcome to me and Darryl’s world of lies!”


Her happiness is through the roof.  No one knows Darryl’s started working in Philly yet, so he has to sneak outta here like the sneakiest little sneaky-sneak you ever saw.  And shes his helper!  It’s SO fun!  Her latest trick?  ‘Bear-yl’, a stuffed bear she won at the carnival!


In actuality, everyone knows that Darryl’s been saving up his sick days and that he’s going.  But he went along with it because she was so excited.


Erin’s not used to this shady stuff, but since Andy’s been gone for three months, she could cut loose a little.  She’s good at it, too!


—————————————————————————————————————————————


The following Thursday, Erin’s sitting at a table in the breakroom when Pete stops by and takes a seat next to her.  She’s smiling widely, replying to an email on her phone.


“Well, you seem chipper,” Pete says.


“Andy’s coming back next week!” she replies, exuberant.


“Really?”


“Yeah!  He’ll be back in the office next Friday, and I cannot wait.”  It’s confirmation that he’s not dead, that he does care, and that he’s coming home.  And on the most romantic day of the year, too!  (Well, close enough.)


“That’s awesome!” he responds.  He’s thankful Andy’s coming back, too, both for her sake and the fact that the whole office can get a reprieve from Dwight.


“It really is!” she happily says, “We’re having a belated Valentine’s Day day.”


“Redundant, much redundant?”


“Shut up!” she nudges at him, chuckling.  He chuckles with her.  “So, how’re you gonna spend your Valentine’s Day?”


“I dunno,” he perplexes, “Go to Poor Richard’s, play some pool, watch Die Hard again.”


“You’ve seen it like 30 times,” she rolls her eyes jokingly.


“Hey,” he says faux-seriously, “you can never watch it too many times.”


“Seriously, though,” she wonders, “you must have something planned.”


He sighs, “To be honest, I’m not really into the whole Valentine’s scene.  Haven’t been in a while.”


“Why’s that?  Rough break up?”


He looks down at the table, “Yup, far too rough.”


Erin can see the sadness etched on his face, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean—”


“It’s fine,” he responds with a small smile, “It was just a toxic relationship.”


“Wanna talk about it?” she asks.


He’s not sure how much he should share, but he feels they’re close enough friends, “We met about three years ago.  I was working at the PetSmart right across from the marketing agency she works for, and when we parked next to each other in the plaza parking lot, we hit it off.  I was a rising junior at the local community college, she was impressed, and then we started dating.  Things were great at the beginning, and then she… wanted me to change for her.”


“Change what?”


“Everything.  How I acted, how I dressed, how I spoke… she literally said the phrase ‘You don’t need to be embarrassing yourself’.  It was only after therapy that I realized that meant she didn’t wanna be embarrassed by me.”


“Wow.”


“After two years, we broke up.  And three months after that, I graduated and applied for this job,” he sighs again, “And that’s it.”


“Wow,” she repeats, beginning to get angry, “She sounds like a real jerk!”


“Yeah, she is,” he lamented.


Inspiration strikes for Erin, “You know what we should do?  Hire a hitman.”


The memories of Alice begin to fade as Pete hears Erin out, “A hitman?  In this economy?”


“Oh please,” she waves off, “I have money in my new bank account,” she brags.


“Are you crazy?” he pretend-chastises, “They’re gonna trace the purchase back to you!  We can’t have the government finding out.”


“Ohh, shoot, you’re right,” she concedes.  “We’ll figure out a plan later.”


“Awesome.”  They do their handshake.  “So what do you and Andy have planned?”


“Hm, I dunno,” she replies, “He hasn’t said anything.  I assume we’re having dinner, chocolates, flowers, the standard fare.”


“How’d you two meet?”


She tells him about the first time he asked her out back to right after Cece Halpert was born, the first time he asked her out.  Michael was trying to play matchmaker (because it’s Michael) and Andy tried to ask her out… and made her cry in the process.  It was well worth it, though.


“Oh, God, no.  Im... Just read the fax.”

“You read the fax!”

“Im… Im asking you out.”

“Oh, my God.  Thats amazing.  Let me just fax this, and Ill check my planner.”

“So, its a date.”

“Yes.”


“Wow, that’s… really sweet.”


“I know, right?”


It’s really sweet and that’s what doesn’t make sense to Pete.  He can tell Andy loves her, but the handling of the whole boat thing was out of hand.  The way she describes him, he seems to be a lovable, personable guy.  The whole response to his family’s fortune makes sense — he’s had to overcome his own demons — but she looks to be genuinely worried about Andy and he’s not giving her the answers she’s needing.  He concedes in his mind that he’s digging too deep into this, that it’s not his place.


“And before he asked me out,” she continues, “he tried to give me the entire twelve days of Christmas.”


“Like, everything?” he asks.


“Yup!”


He pauses, “Aren’t the first four verses of the song just ten birds?”


“Yeah!” her face suddenly sobers, “It was truly awful.”


He purses his lips, “Well, at least you got five golden rings out of it.”


“Actually, he spent so much on the birds that he gave me five Ring Pops instead.”


“Can I be honest with you about something?” he asks.


“Yeah?”


“I kinda prefer Ring Pops instead of actual rings,” he’s joking, of course, but he doesn’t expect the reply.


“Oh my gosh, thank you!”  He lightly laughs at her response.  “I mean, you can literally eat the diamond, you can’t do that with a normal ring.”


“I mean, it’s a fraction of the cost.”


“Exactly.”


“And you still get to keep the ring afterward!”


“Finally, someone who gets me!” she shrugs off the true impact of that statement.


She adds on the twelve drummers drumming, who stopped by the office.  She continues with some tidbits of her and Andy’s relationship, such as their first date when she was sick (He has questions about Reed that he doesn’t ask), Gabe’s scavenger hunt that they participated in on Valentine’s Day (“Wait, that was Gabe?”  “Yeah, it’s the least creepy thing he’s ever done.”), and driving to Tallahassee the whole twelve hours to get her back.


“Wow,” Pete comments, impressed, “All that time, there and back.”


“Yeah, he was engaged to Jessica at the time.”


“Wait, they were already engaged?  How did that go?”


“Get out!  You ruined my party!  Who does that?  Are you kidding me? … Yeah, run away!”

“Youre disgusting!”

“I cant believe youre not gay!”


“...It was something.”


“I can imagine.”


“Part of me knows she didn’t deserve it,” she says, “She was really nice.  But he knew it wasn’t meant to be.”  She thinks about Jessica, and probably the most embarrassing night of her life.


“Hey, you know, you cant say that okay?  Thats my girlfriend that youre talking about.  You and I are not together anymore.  You need to get over it!  Take your wish back.”

“Too late!  Its already been wished!  And you promised it would come true.  You wrote it in an email!  So, which one are you?  A murderer or a liar?”


“I just… I handled everything so poorly,” it’s just hitting her now how jealous and angry she got because he found happiness.


“Hey, we all make mistakes,” he says reassuringly.  It doesn’t work.


“I was so distraught that I decided to be a live-in maid to this lovely old woman named Irene.”  She smiles, they still talk on occasion, and Erin sees her as a guardian.  “She’s the one that pushed me to go back with him.”


“Erin, I think youre making a big mistake right now.  Andy is a nice boy.”

“Really?  Cause youve been kind of a b to him all afternoon.”

“I was protecting you because I thought he was no good.  But I can tell you really like him.  And hes willing to lose his job for you, in this economy with Europe on the brink—”

“Irene, what would you do without me?”

“Were not your concern, sweetheart.”


“Y’know,” she continues, “I’m really thankful for her.  If she never said anything… I wouldn’t be back here, right?” she says with a smile.


He smiles back, her optimism is infectious.  “I hope she’s doing okay,” Pete says.


“Oh, she’s great!” Erin says with a bright smile, “They got a lot of money from the Home Depot lawsuit.”  He doesn’t ask for further information.


She pauses as she mulls over everything he did for her, and every event she had with him:

The twelve drummers drumming.

Their first date, while she was sick.

When he announced their relationship at Sid & Dexter’s.

The search for the leads.

Sweeny Todd.

Gabe’s scavenger hunt.

Tallahassee.

All of them when the relationship was fresh, new, and exciting… or when there wasn’t one at all.


And then she mulls over everything that happened while they were seriously dating, each of his decisions infuriating at best, an emotional punch to the gut at worst.


His gestures are grand and elaborate, full of thought and care.  His voice is so sweet and gentle, bolstered by his talents as a singer.  Despite all of his flaws, his heart is loving and genuine.  And yet… and yet…


She wasn’t looking in his direction anymore, but into space, lost in this overwhelming barrage of thoughts.  “Hey, Erin,” Pete asks, “Are you alri—”


“We love each other more when we’re apart than when we’re together.”


She blurts it out of nowhere, thinking out loud.  She didn’t even mean to say it out loud, it catches her off guard.  It does Pete as well.  He doesn’t know what to do next.  He notices her face, which is stoic, very unlike her.  He wisely decides to just let her think and not try to comfort her.


Then her fears get the better of her once again, “I just… I don’t get it, I don’t GET it!” she raises her voice and pounds the table in frustration, getting emotional.


“Whoa, hey, let’s relax,” he pushes softly.


“I’m sorry,” she apologized, embarrassed, “It’s just… I don’t understand him.  He wanted to keep our relationship a secret to avoid drama, and it just caused more drama.  He did so much for me on Secretary’s Day, but he was never honest about his relationship with Angela.  He drove all the way to Florida and sacrificed his job to win me back… and left on a boat trip without me.  For three months.”


Pete continues to stay silent as she goes back to Florida…


“Andy, you broke my heart.  Do you know what it feels like to be constantly rejected by you and… to have to watch you date someone else?”


“Admittedly I haven’t been the perfect girlfriend either,” she concedes, “And he is going through a lot.”


“You broke my heart too.”


He sighs, “Sometimes timing can be off.  And it’s not your fault, or his.  It’s just… how it is.”


“You— broke my heart more recently and more often.  And I think at some point, in my head, it just sort of clicked that were not meant to be.”

“Im so sorry that we have not loved each other at the same time.”

“I know.”


She knows Pete by now.  She trusts him.  That’s why she has to ask him the question she’s been asking to herself over and over and over…


“Am I being selfish?”


He simply leans in and reassures her, without a second thought, “Absolutely not.”


Those two words make her want to cry.  They mean she’s not wrong for reacting the ways she is to all this.  They mean that she’s not mean, or rude, or any negative critique about herself.  “Thank you,” she whispers with a wide smile.


“Of course,” he responds, “And, look, whatever’s happening with you and Andy…” he begins, “It’s gonna work out.”  And it will for both of them, just not in the way they think.  “It didn’t with me and Alice, but you and Andy are different.”


She smiles at him, “Thanks again, I needed this.”


“Of course,” he responds, getting up and putting his trash away.  “Me too,” he says walking back to the annex.


She just smiles.  As she heads back to the front desk, the camera catches her face, deep in thought.


“I… I honestly don’t know how to respond to any of that,” Pete admits to Brent later, “All I can say is… I hope it works out for them.”


“I hope it works out for us,” Erin parrots in the same chair.


—————————————————————————————————————————————


“Excuse me, everyone,” Angela proudly announces as she enters the office, “Is it okay if I leave early from work today?  It’s Phillip’s first birthday and the Senator and I are hosting a party at our house.”


“Aw, cute!” Erin says happily, “So there’ll be a bunch of kids.”


“No,” Angela responds, “No children.  Our house is not kid-friendly.  Most of our furniture is sharp.  Also, ew.”  Erin didn’t appreciate that last remark.  “It will mostly be campaign donors.”


Kevin is prepared to donate a whopping… eight dollars to Lipton’s campaign.  Kevin can’t go because he — like everyone else in the office — couldn’t make the cut, which she’s so sad about!  She’s mostly sad that they’re not “Martha Stewart catalog” levels of sophistication.


Oscar is the one exception… because Lipton invited him too.


“What?” she asks curtly.


“He said he wanted me there for support,” Oscar explains.


“I’m his—” beard “his wife,” she presses.


“Angela’s husband and I are in love,” Oscar elaborates to Brent, still convincing himself, “But, as a politician in this town, you still need the conventional blonde wife on your lawn signs.  He is risking everything to have me there today,” he laughs “Me!”


Angela, rightfully pissed, decides to get back at her gay husband, by bringing a stud of her own… Dwight.


“Hey,” she approaches him with a bright smile.


“What is it?” he asks hurriedly, “I have vengeance to exact.”


He’s not interested in going, and she’s made it clear why he doesn’t.


“What?  Wait,” she gently pushes, “The state transportation secretary will be there.  You could sell your beet salt idea to the highway people.”


“If I get the deicing gig, it’s not gonna be on merit.  Not because I played politics.”  This hits Angela harder than she expected.


“Hey,” Kevin approaches her, “So, a little birdie just told me that Dwight can’t come to your son’s birthday.  So, do you want me to go with you?”


“No,” she quickly replies.


“Okay,” he says, attempting to gain sympathy points, “I understand.  I’ll just stay here, then.  Alone with the money.”


“Aw, crap,” she quietly concedes.


And the three accountants now stand in a scene straight out of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.  A piano player, fancy hors d’oeuvres, and men and women dressed in their Sunday best.


“Opening with pub pastries?” Kevin says, analyzing one of the hors d’oeuvres, “That’s a bold play.  They’re saying, ‘It’s only gonna get better from here?  Good luck.’”


That’s just it about Kevin Malone: many assume he got dumber and dumber as the years went by.  When, in reality, he’s a lot more perceptive than people give him credit for, and has remained that way.  He knew about Jim and Pam’s love affair before anyone else did, and was their biggest cheerleader besides Michael.  He realized Michael’s bad ideas from time to time.  He’s still a master of gambling and a smart betting man.  Despite many rightfully calling him out for being bad at his job, he can still do complex math in his head.  He even makes fantastic chili (the trick is to undercook the onions).  And, yeah, he’s dimwitted and maybe has gotten dumber over time.  But he sure as hell doesn’t care, he’s just happy to be included.


Oscar, meanwhile, wonders how Angela, a woman who weighs less than a guinea pig, can be that terrifying while staring at a portrait of her.


When Lipton, Angela, and baby Lipton are introduced, she hams it up to keep it a secret.  As she needs to.


As Lipton and Oscar get along with the guests, one of them says “You two seem very close.”


“Yes, we’re good friends,” Lipton proudly says, “Good friends.”


“Yeah,” Oscar agrees quietly.


“You know, I suppose that may ruffle a few feathers,” Lipton starts, doing what politicians do best, “For a long time, our party has turned its back on the Hispanic people.  Well, that is not who I am.”  He puts his arm around Oscar, but not in the way he’s used to.  “I am a friend of the Latino community.  And if you ask me, it’s time we bid bigotry hasta luego.”  The guests give their standard brunch laugh, as Angela looks on, ashamed, and just… tired.  “Now, does my embrace of Hispanics make me more electable?  Given demographic trends… I don’t know, and I don’t care.  What I care about is Oscar.”  He lightly slaps Oscar’s cheek, in the way he is used to.  “My friend.  Mi amigo.  Oscar.”  And as he hugs Oscar, the guests applaud.  Angela is just… done.


“Maybe I should be insulted that he only invited me here to be his token Mexican friend,” Oscar confesses to the camera, “But, he could have invited any number of Hispanics that he knows.  His gardener, Rogelio.  Or he could’ve invited… Rogelio.  But, he chose me.”  And then he remembers something,  “Rogelio’s Malaysian… The son of a bitch is Malaysian.”


Looks like Angela is not the only one skilled in denial and deflection.


And then there’s the photo… God.  Of course, he’d use a shield of minorities, Oscar included, to block his wife from being in the damn photo.  It got the three lovers to start arguing with each other.


As the party ends, Lipton has the gall to confront his lover and wife, “Well…” he begins, “have we all calmed down?”


As Oscar and Angela put the blame on themselves, and Lipton advises them to do better next time… out walks Kevin.


“Kevin, great to see you,” Lipton greets.


“Yeah, thank you for the food,” Kevin responds, “Oh, and also, you suck.”


This gives the other three pause.  “I beg your pardon?” Lipton asks, offended.


“You are, like, a terrible person,” Kevin nonchalantly chastises, “These guys care about you and you’re just using them.”  There’s a beat as the corrupt politician realizes his lies can’t fool everyone, even the least assuming person there is.  “Again, the food was very good,” Kevin compliments, his tone cheery once again.


As Oscar and Angela walk to the car with Kevin… they both feel content, proud that their struggles are being acknowledged, by their slow and overweight deskmate of all people, as Lipton stands there, feeling disappointed rather than guilty.


“I’ve sat next to Oscar and Angela… for fourteen years,” Kevin tells the camera, “they’re my people.  If you just go by distance… they’re m— they’re my best friends.  I-I don’t know why you go by distance though, I guess, that’s…”  It’s okay, Kevin, they feel the same way.


—————————————————————————————————————————————


Jim offers to drive Pam to the office with her supplies while he’s out with the kids for the morning.  She instead asks Helene but he insists he at least picks her up.  She acquiesces.  


“I’ve really been putting in the hours on this mural,” Pam states proudly to the camera as she enters the warehouse, “And my boss is totally okay with it because he’s in the Bahamas and has no clue what anybody is doing.”


Cut to a shot of Creed flying a kite at his desk.


“I’m usually very self-critical,” she continues, “I hate what I paint.  But, I don’t know, this time I feel like it’s, um, it’s really coming together— Oh, my God!”


She makes the mistake of turning to the left.  A cacophony of orange butts litters the mural, along with the phrase THIS SUCKS.


“Wha… You’ve gotta be kidding me!  What it… are tho— are those butts?”  She looks across the various blue-collar workers.  “Huh?  No way.  No way!”


The camera pans to the culprit filling out some forms.


Royally pissed off, she decides to ascend on the lift, needing to get to the bottom of this.  “Attention, everyone,” she begins, “Can I have your attention, please?  Yeah, I don’t know everybody’s name down here, but whoever did this, please raise your hand.”


Nothing.


“Hello?”


Still nothing.


“This is not over, okay?  I will stay up here all day if I have to.  Is that what you want?”  Val closes the door, and everyone else just continues.  She has work to do.  “Yeah, I will also come down if I want to, it’s my choice.”  Nate nods in respect.


She wants to call Jim, just needing to vent, but she doesn’t.  She would like him to be in the office because she knows he can do something about it.  But she’s not making him drive here to deal with this.  He’s got to focus on himself.  He’s making great progress, that shouldn’t be stunted.  He’s been extra sweet to her, being there for her more… but she knows he’s making up for everything he’s kicking himself over.  He doesn’t need to go this far.  But he does, for her.  She doesn’t deserve him.


“I don’t demand justice often,” she quietly tells the camera, “I’m not like Angela, who calls a lawyer every time someone watches a YouTube video of animals doing it.  But, someone should get fired over this, right?  Val’s no help.  Andy’s gone.  Jim’s out.  I just feel like I’m on my own here.”  She notices the boom mike drop and hit her in the forehead.  She lightly smiles, appreciating the help.  “I mean, okay, not completely on my own.  But, in terms of people who can do something.  Thank you, Brian.”


Brent, behind the camera in this instance, takes notice.


She’s out of options, except one: her crazy coworkers.


“Conference room!  Everybody!  Now!” she announces, bursting through the entrance.


Dwight tells her she doesn’t have the clearance, but she claims David Wallace gave it to her.  Dwight, thankfully, buys it.  She tells them the terrible news.  (Erin was confused, she assumes paint on the wall is what Pam wanted to begin with.)  She wisely uses the words ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ to rally everyone up, but they don’t buy into it and they all leave… except for two.


“Pam,” Dwight arises from his chair as the others leave, “I’ll help you.”


“You will?”


“If there’s anything I hate worse than art, it’s crime.”


When Jim’s not here, Dwight is the next best thing.  “Thank you.”


“I am in too, Pam,” Nellie proudly announces.


“Yeah?” Pam says smiling.


“Yes, of course!” Nellie responds, “You are my friend, I believe in you, I believe in your art, and I am bored.”


“Great!”  Pam wanted a righteous mob, but she got her two closest friends in the office… who at least have a mob mentality.  (She’s pretty sure Dwight has a pitchfork in his car (he does).)


Dwight gets started, sitting all the workers on a table, “I am handing out pieces of paper, on which you will draw one human butt.  What I do with said drawings, is no one’s business but my own.”


“You’re gonna compare ’em to the butts up there,” Frank says.


“Incorrect,” Dwight lies, “It is my fetish.  Oh, also, sign them.  My fetish is signed drawings of butts.”  Val wisely stops this in its tracks.


“Well, this is getting us nowhere,” Nellie comments.


Pam brainstorms since Nate is the weakest one, they can get him to crack.  Dwight, knowing him better than anyone, tells him that his mother is dying and that gets his attention.  Dwight lures him in with chewing gum and Nate lets them know it is, in fact, Frank.  There was no chewing gum.  Nate is disappointed.


Nellie, Toby, and Pam confront Frank in the conference room.  If Katy was Pam 6.0, Frank is Roy 6.0.  He’s burley, unsophisticated, and can be off-putting to some.


“So, Frank,” Nellie begins, “Do you have any thoughts about what was done?  By you?”  He remains silent… and looks annoyed.


Pam gets the ball rolling with Toby next to her, “Um, Frank?  Hi.  Pam.  Um, I am so sorry if I’ve done anything to offend you.  I’m sure it isn’t easy for you guys to have an upstairs person coming down in your space.  So, truly.  If, if, I apologize.  But enough about me.  Your turn.”


He just picks at his ear.


“You sort of deserve an apology here,” Toby quietly pipes up, “Frank?”


He finally responds, “I’m sorry I didn’t like your crappy doodles,” he “apologizes” in a condescending tone, “I drew a butt.  Big deal.  Butts are funny.”


The absolute nerve of this guy!  At least Roy pretended to care about her art!


“Well, I didn’t think that butt was funny,” Pam argues.


“Well, maybe if you got the stick out of yours!”


“What was that?”


“You know what?  You people can’t fire me!  So, screw you!”


And he’s right, they can’t.  Nellie says that at least the first sorry sounded sincere.  It didn’t.


Nellie and Toby couldn’t do anything, so Dwight’s up… and they have the perfect solution: an eye for an eye!


“Normally, I find Pam to be a comforting, if unarousing, presence around the office,” Dwight tells Brent, “Like a well-watered fern.  But, today, she has tapped into this vengeful, violent side.  And I’m like, wow, Pam has kind of a good butt.”  Jim can attest.


They get Clark to infiltrate for them… and he ends up shirtless, duck-taped to a chair, and texting Pete for help.  They then call up Darryl to see what he says (before he can complain about Mark’s sloppiness in their shared apartment), and find out that he cares about his pickup truck.  They find some water-based white paint and get to work.


Dwight, in a true testament of his and Pam’s friendship, paints a mural on the butt of his truck as recompense, “Eye for an eye, Mamasita.”


“Aw, Dwight,” she says, genuinely touched, “That’s really sweet.”


And though Pam is embarrassed with hers, Dwight thinks it’s amazing!  A caricature of Frank riding the truck, leaving a trail of poops, and having saggy boobs.


Dwight has had the best day.  “I have to say,” he admits, “I like hanging out with a vengeful bitch.”


Pam cares about him, so she needs to be there for him after today, “I know.  You miss Angela, don't you?”


“Ugh!” he groans, “Don’t sympathize, you’re ruining the mood, back to work.”  And she continues defacing the truck.  “Draw his penis!”


As Pam walks back to the front door, she tells the camera that she got back at him with art, the most fitting way possible.  “But, I think the lesson will last a very—”


“HEY!” Frank shouts, exiting the building in righteous anger, “My truck?!” he shouts, “You had no right!”


“No, you had no right!” She shouts back.


“It’s a $40,000 truck!”


“So?  You started it!”


“So?  So someone needed to shut you up!” Frank shouts, running towards her.


He goes to attack her but is stopped Brian makes his first real appearance in the doc.  Out of nowhere, he hits Frank with the rod of his boom and fights him.  As Pam instinctually runs into the building, two other crew members try to break up the fight.  The cameras just… keep rolling.  There’s nothing they can do, he’s dug his own grave.


After 5:00, Pam and Brian are stationed in the crew’s locker room, her fighting for his defense.  Brent films from outside.


“Well, I’m gonna say something to the producers,” she presses.  


“No.  No, it’s…”


“You shouldn’t be fired.  I mean, you were just protecting me.”


“It’s all good.  I knew what I was doing.”  He did.  “It’s… I’m sorry about your mural, though.  I mean because you put so much into that.”


“Forget about my mural,” she comforts, “It’s stupid.”


“No.  You, you worked hard on that.  That guy’s an animal.  I’m glad they’re firing him too.”


She sighs, “It’s crazy.  Brian, I’m so sorry.”  


“Look.  I don’t… I don’t wanna put myself where I don’t belong.  If you ever need me, you just call me.  And I’ll be there for you.”  He would.


That last sentence makes her suspect, but she nods her head, “Thanks, Brian,” she says.


“Seeya.”  And just like that, he departs.


Pam slowly walks from the room and shuts the door, but pauses when she gets a call.


“Hello?”


“Beesly!” Jim says with pride.


“What?” She asks.  As she’s talking, she heads to her desk and gathers the rest of her things.


“Dwight texted me what happened and what you guys did to that jerks truck,” he explains, “He told me to guess which one was yours.”


She smiles brightly, “You guessed the poops didn’t you?”


“Seriously, Beesly, way to take the high road,” he jokingly chastises.


“Oh, screw off, Halpert,” she jokes back, “Like you wouldn’t do the same thing.”


“Touché.  Im here.”


“Oh, I’ll be right down.  So, how was the park?”


“It was great!  Cece and Phillip had a lot of fun.  She found this amazing flower for you.”


“Aw, that’s so sweet!”


—————————————————————————————————————————————


As the three accountants are in the car, Kevin thanks Angela for all the free food.


“We had way too many appetizers anyway,” she responds, “I don’t know who did the ordering.  How hard is it to buy for forty?” she asks Oscar.


“Some people are just terrible at math,” Oscar responds.


“It’s embarrassing.”


“It is.”


“Totally,” Kevin adds.


Chapter End Notes:

This was a fun one.  My favorite — and most canon — part was the accountant trio.  This was such a joy to write and plays on this oddball friendship they all share and it's amazing and wholesome.  There were only two deleted scenes I put in this one and both were for this plot.  (The others aren't worth it, especially the one where Pam imitates Hide... Yikes.)

 

The Erin/Pete subplot is what I'm most worried about because it was made out of whole cloth.  No source material, no previous dialogue, nothing.  I wanted to write it for two reasons: 1) the original C-plot sucks.  Yeah, let's make Jim both a crappy husband to Pam AND a crappy roommate to Darryl!  I mean, I'm a slob myself, but you gotta respect some boundaries, dude.  (Though they are two sexy-ass roommates.)  And 2) I wanted to give an honest analysis of Andy and Erin's relationship, because to me it's more than just "they were perfect" or "they were terrible".  They had some incredibly cute and endearing moments, to be sure, but they also have a lot of flaws, and I wanted to explore Erin reflecting on all of it, the good and the bad.  Plus, I wanted to expand on Pete with his backstory because, let's face it, the canon Pete is Wonder Bread and had little substance to him.

 

The main plot — the JAM one — is relatively unchanged, actually.  The key difference being Dwight texting Jim pics of the truck and her not telling Jim about it until afterwards.  Brian still gets fired, and yes, he's gonna keep showing up.

 

NEXT TIME: It's Valentine's Day!  The office celebrates one more day without Andy before he surprises everyone with his presence.  Erin is happy things will go back to normal, while the rest of the office feels differently, especially Dwight.  Meanwhile, after an uncomfortable lunch with Brian, Jim and Pam begin to open up and let each other in...


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