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Story Notes:
This is the first *true* AU I have written. I’m a little nervous about it but also super excited to explore this story I have running around in my head. Hopefully you like it!

A GIANT thank you to everyone in the chat to helped me brainstorm, gave me killer suggestions, and let me bounce ideas around. One million Schrute Bucks to you all. A small reminder than I own nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Just a little introductory chapter for you. :)
Jim adjusted the last desk on the back row and stood back with his hands on his hips to admire his work. He always surprised himself with how much he actually enjoyed setting up his classroom each year. They were two weeks away from the first day of school and Jim’s 4th year teaching English at Edward Truck Memorial High School, and he finally felt like he was getting the hang of things. His first year was terrifying and difficult and he nearly quit. His second year was fine, but he had quite a few difficult students that made it hard to love. The third year was definitely better. But this year—this year already felt different.

His summer had been good, but nothing too exciting. People loved to say, “At least you have your summers off” when he told them he was a teacher, not understanding how much work he had to put in to get ready for the upcoming school year. He had also started teaching Drivers Ed for some extra money, which kept him busy and also took time away from his lesson planning as well as his social life. Despite all of that, he was able to spend a lot of time with family and took a two week trip to the Oregon coast with a few of his buddies in July. Being a teacher did have its perks.

He checked his watch and saw he had about five minutes until he had to be in the faculty lounge for their first meeting of the year. For the most part, he got along great with his fellow faculty members, especially the English department. He was the first to admit he thrived on good social interaction, so it was nice to like the company he was in while at work, even if they were a quirky bunch. That just kept things interesting.

He flipped off the lights to his classroom and headed to the lounge, hands in his pockets. Walking down the locker-lined hallways before a new school year always gave him a twinge of excitement. He would have never admitted this as a teenager, but he had always loved school. Of course he would put on mock grumbling and sighing when his friends complained about it, but there wasn’t much he actually had to complain about. He got good grades, was on student council, had friends in many different groups, and was the star point guard on the basketball team. He was a jock who spent his bus rides home from games with his nose in a book and always felt like he was a pretty well-rounded kid. He even pulled off one heck of a senior prank involving about 15,000 goldfish and the school cafeteria. The principal liked him, though, so he got off with only a finger wag and a gentle scolding.

Grabbing a seat next to his fellow English teacher Darryl, he settled in for what was likely a longer meeting about the upcoming year, expectations of the staff, scheduling—those kinds of things.

He held up a fist and tapped it against Darryl’s. “Hey Philbin, how was your summer?”

“Excellent, man. Got to go to Disneyworld with Jada. Watched a lot of baseball. You know.”

“Nice! Jada starting her new school this year?”

Jim started listening to Darryl’s reply, but slowly got distracted by a new face across the room. She was sitting quietly, doodling idly on the pad of paper in front of her. She was wearing a yellow floral dress with a pale green cardigan over top of it. There was something incredibly breathtaking about her simple beauty and Jim couldn’t help but stare at her while mindlessly nodding in response to whatever Darryl was saying.

“Hey,” he said once Darryl had finished his thought. “Who’s that sitting next to Stanley?”

“I haven’t met her yet, but I think she’s the new art teacher.”

“So they finally canned Creed, then, huh?” he asked, eyes still focused on his new colleague.

“Thank the lord for that,” Darryl uttered. “Dude was weird.”

“Alright, attention everyone!” their principal, Ms. Jan Levinson, boomed over the hum of chattering voices. “Welcome back to another school year! I hope your summer treated you all well. It’s great to see so many familiar faces and some newer ones as well, who we’ll introduce in just a minute. Unfortunately, Vice Principal Scott couldn’t make it today because of a...conflict. But he’ll be back next week.” Jan let out a sigh, which seemed to happen often when she spoke about Michael.

Jim leaned over to Darryl. “I’m guessing Magic Camp.”

Darryl stifled a laugh. “Wouldn’t be surprised.”

Their vice principal Michael Scott was...a lot. A lovable idiot, really. But Jim had to admit, even though he was a bit much, the students loved and respected him (way more than his faculty did) and he was actually pretty good at his job. That was enough to keep him around.

Jim shot another look toward the new teacher but this time was met with her green eyes looking straight back at him. Looking down quickly, he was unable to contain a small smile from creeping up his cheek. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see her smiling down at her paper as well. His stomach gave a small flutter.

“Now onto our new faculty members,” Jan announced. “We have a new theater teacher, Mr. Andy Bernard. Mr. Bernard, please stand up.” A man in some very brightly colored pants stood up. “Andrew Bernard, at your service,” he said in an over-exaggerated cockney accent, bowing theatrically.

“Oooookay.” Jan raised her eyebrows and moved on. “And we have a new art teacher! Ms. Pam Beesly, go ahead and stand up.”

Shyly, Pam half-stood out of her chair and gave a modest wave to the group. She sat back down as the teachers lightly applauded, and she nervously moved her curly hair to one shoulder. As the meeting went on, Jim couldn’t help but steal glances at her the entire time, watching her long fingers drag and maneuver her pen on the paper in front of her, her head tilted to the side and her lips slightly pursed into a concentrated line as she drew. She truly was beautiful and he had the overwhelming desire to get to know her.

The meeting ended sooner than he expected (probably because Michael wasn’t there) and he stalled awkwardly, trying not to get trapped in conversation so he could leave when she did. As she made her way to the exit, he picked up his stride so he could meet her at the door.

“Hey,” he attempted to say as casually as possible. “Beesly, was it? Pam?”

She smiled sweetly and turned to him as they walked, “That’s me!”

He shook her hand. “Welcome to the school! I’m Jim Halpert. English.”

She smiled and dipped her head in acknowledgement. “Nice to meet you, Jim Halpert English.”

They were both smiling as they continued down the hallway.

“So,” Jim started, “is this your first year teaching or just your first year at a new school?”

“Uh, my very first year. I graduated in art a few years ago, enjoyed being broke for a little bit, then decided to get my masters in education. And now here I am!” She shrugged and then her brow furrowed, worriedly. She lowered her voice to a meager whisper. “Is the first year always this terrifying?!”

Jim let out a little laugh. “Pretty much. But don’t worry. It gets better. I promise you’re more qualified than you think you are. And you’ve already had practice being broke, so you’re all set for a teacher’s salary!” he joked.

She chuckled and smiled at him and he realized he was done for. She radiated warmth and sincerity and Jim was well on his way to being smitten, even with such a brief encounter.

Pam pointed to the classroom on their left. “Well, this is me.”

The administration had rearranged which teachers were in which classrooms over the summer, and a stupid grin spread on Jim’s face as he realized what an idiot he was for forgetting that his new classroom was directly across from the art room.

He pointed to their right. “And this is me.”

“Fancy that,” she sang. “Guess I’ll see you around, Halpert.”

“See you around, Beesly.”

He watched as she turned and walked into her classroom, dress gently flowing behind her.

Jim stuck his hands in his pockets, still unable to stop smiling. This year would definitely be a good one.
Chapter End Notes:
I know I deprived you of some Michael Scott, but I promise he will be around later, along with many other familiar faces. ;) Thanks for reading!

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