"Who did this to you?"
With sobs that almost shook her frame, Pam barely registered words or voice. To go with the physical pain of having her heart broken, now she had shame of having been found like this. The most pathetic and vulnerable she had been since… since that day when they came to Scranton.
"Sorry, that sounded very creepy. What is the matter?"
It was a hoarse voice but Pam has begun to learn that there could be a little sweetness in it when the situation called for it.
Without daring to look up, she heard the steps, and felt a body standing next to her.
"Pam?" She finally looked up at Karen's voice. "Do you… want me to… to leave?"
Pam just shook her head, slowly, and looked back down. Deep breaths that came out as sobs were not really helping her calm down.
In her peripheral vision she saw something white agitate. With trembling fingers she took the kleenex and made an effort to sit a little bit straighter.
Karen, apparently, took it as an invitation and she sat down right next to her.
"PMS, huh?" She said with a rough laugh that Pam couldn't help but share. Of course it wasn't and of course Karen had noticed it, with that dark humour Pam had discovered on Christmas.
"Yeah," she managed. "Real bad."
Pam dried her tears and tried to compose herself.
"Was it something that I say?"
She looked at her with a start. "What makes you say that?"
"Well... I just thanked you about the apartment, and a minute later you're rushing upstairs..." Karen trailed off.
Pam shook her head, slowly. "No... it's not... it's not that." Not exactly, anyway.
"Do I wanna know the name of the bastard?" Karen tried again.
Pam considered her for a moment. How much did she know? But in Karen's face there was a concern, Pam was sure would've been absent if she had a clue about what had happened between her and Jim. Instead, there was a wave of solidarity Pam was not used to feeling in the office. Not since May, or maybe never.
But this was hitting very close to the truth and the whole irony of it was too much. Another sob escaped her and this was sadness and shame in equal measure.
Karen produced another kleenex and Pam took it in mute gratitude.
"I am a mess," she finally managed.
"We all are. This is just… your moment, I guess."
Pam looked at her again, and managed a smile.
"I should lock myself in the bathroom when these things happen," she finally said.
"I always prefer the privacy of my car."
"Oh, are you a regular at bawling in a work environment?"
Karen shrugged, her concerned expression shifting a little towards amusement. "Only when the paycheck comes."
"I think I'm better now." She took a deep breath. "Thanks for these," she looked at the two damp white balls on her hand.
Karen stood up and Pam watched her shift her weight from one foot to the other.
"I'm- the offer is still there. You know. If you wanna talk to someone about it."
"I get it," Karen went on. "I'm almost a stranger. But still… I could use a margarita or three, and a girls' night out. I don't really know anybody and…"
"Yeah," Pam nodded at the door towards the warehouse and stood up. "Let's get this job done and go grab a drink." She heard herself saying. Was she crazy? Maybe she had gone crazy. But that thing about not knowing anybody had hit close to… to something. Pam knew people, had friends, but ever since they- him had come back, she had felt lonely. Not knowing anybody anymore.
And yet… as Pam finished with the inventory, deciding she really hated steelpans, she remembered how much fun she and Karen had had planning the alternative Christmas party and how she had forgotten for a moment that she was the reason she couldn't be with Jim now… During their planning and cold war against Angela, Karen had proven to be somebody friendly. Funny. Maybe a little sophisticated, maybe a little intimidating at first, but also fragile in the way she had exited the conference room when Angela had kicked her out.
Two hours later, they met at the bar.
Karen genuinely smiled when she saw her from her perch on a tall table and Pam thought that girls just wanna have fun.
They were half-way through their first margarita when Karen turned from relaxed to mildly concerned.
"You feeling better?"
Pam considered the questions for a moment. If she was to be honest, it had been a while since she had felt this good. Maybe a good cry and some booze had been what she had needed all these weeks.
"Yeah. Oddly enough I am."
"Great." Karen said earnestly.
Pam considered her for a moment. She wasn't going to ask any further questions. They could just keep on drinking, while discussing Jan's relationship status and the location of Karen's new apartment, two girls having a well,deserved night out.
But she knew she couldn't do it. It felt a lot like a lie, or at least like hiding something, big and possibly nasty. Definitely complicated. She had had her share of that for too long.
"So…" Pam took a deep breath. "Wanna know what the crying was about?"
Karen leaned forward a little. "Yeah."