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Originally posted 5 February 2021

I always feel more at home in Philadelphia than I ever do in Scranton.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty about Scranton that I like, love even.  But Philly?  Home of The 76ers?  The Phillies?  The Eagles?  Fairmount Park?  30th Street Station?  The scenery, the culture, the nightlife?  The cheesesteak?  Everything about the place just resonates with me.  It helps that I have family there; growing up, about once a year, we would take the train to visit my Dad’s family for either Thanksgiving or Christmas (we’d switch from year to year), and I got to bond with my uncle’s eldest Johnathan.  As much as I love Tom and Pete, their immaturity and constant teasing get old real quick; Larisa and I would constantly have to retaliate.  (At least it prepared me to deal with Michael and Dwight.)  I honestly consider Johnathan more of a ‘big brother’ figure: laid-back, confident, and an overall good person.  Someone I can relate to and also aspire to be.

If I were being honest, I wish I could live there someday, raise my kids there.  But hey, I already have one dream come true.  And said dream come true tells me to get my laptop so we can buy train tickets.

Yeah, that’s right, the woman I’ve fallen head over heels for wants us to spend a long weekend at my favorite city, traveling by train.

Did Dwight shove me in the fucking Matrix?  Because, if so, God bless him.

With her credit card information filled in and two tickets in the cart, a thought pops into my brain.  Yeah, this is my dream come true, but is this what she wants?

I turn to her, getting her attention away from my laptop.  “Pam, you don’t have to do this,” I reassure her.

“Yes, I do.”  She’s being sincere, I can tell.  “I’ve known nothing but Scranton my whole life.  I don’t even know where I want to travel.  I only wrote down ‘New York’ for our Plan B because it’s the most exciting place I can think of that’s close to Scranton.  This is the first opportunity I have to explore something new.  And I’m dragging you with me.”  She grabs my hands with hers, needing to be honest with me.  “Jan told me something during that Woman in the Workplace thing, something that stuck with me.  ‘There are always a million reasons not to do something’.”

We both stare at each other, remembering that awkward conversation from the same day.

“You got to take a chance on something sometime, Pam.  I mean, do you want to be a receptionist here, always?”

“Oh, excuse me!  I’m fine with my choices!”

“You are?”


I’m brought back to reality when she says the very sentence I wanted to hear from her that day.  “I’m finally taking a chance.”

We sit there, our hearts about to explode.  This is something she needs, something I’ve always wanted her to do for her.  I’m so damn proud of her.  I just… I have to know.  For certain.  “Are you sure?”

She nods as if she was never more sure of anything.

So I take my laptop from her, click ‘Confirm Purchase’, and the ‘Thank You’ message pops up.  I’ve never seen her happier.

Cue another full-on makeout sesh.

We don’t see each other for another two and a half weeks after she gets back the next day.  We keep in contact by phone and every piece of software we can find.  We schedule everything, even during work.  We make sure not to use company property (unless we’re that desperate), so we just decide on texting.  I have a longer lunch break, and God knows Michael doesn’t care.

She shows up on Tuesday night before our trip, and… goddamn.  She looks different, good different.  No frizzy hair, brighter lipstick, healthier skin.  Yet she’s still Pam.

“How do I look?”  I just gawk, unable to speak.  “Why thank you,” she responds with a hug and kiss as we giggle.  I knew she’d take it as the compliment it’s meant to be.

On the train the next morning, she says she’s never been on one and, as I hoped, she loves it.  She paid for the tickets, so I pay for the hotel room, four nights.  After we’re settled, I’m out of the shower when I make a horrifying realization.

I didn’t turn my laptop off last night before I packed it.

“Wait, is this Second Life?”  Aw, fuck.

I walk over to the bedroom, still wet with the towel around my waist, as she sits at her side of the bed.  “Who’s this?”

I stand next to her, “Oh, it’s just my avatar.  Guy.  Whatever.”

“He looks a lot like you,” she continues, “How much time did you spend on that?”

“Not much,” I lie.

“Right,” she doesn’t buy it, “Sportswriter from Philadelphia.  Obviously.”


“Oh, you have a guitar slung on your back.  I didn’t know you played guitar!”

“Y’know, we got a lot to do tomorrow, so…” I inform her as I subtly attempt to take the computer.

She’s taking it back, giggling wildly as she says “No no no, I wanna see more of Philly Jim, I want Philly Jim!”  She wasn’t supposed to meet ‘Philly Jim’ until year three of our relationship at the earliest.

The Phillies are at Washington and Johnathan’s on an extended business trip, so those are a bust.  We do manage to have fun our first couple of days (the 8th being “Pam Day” and the 9th being “Jim Day”).  Today’s our last day, the 10th: “Lazy Day”.  Pam woke up at around seven reading The Old Man and the Sea while I’m still dead asleep on my side, next to her; I’m a light sleeper, so whenever I wake up, Pam uses her right hand to run her fingers through my hair to help me relax.  I couldn’t love this woman more if I tried.

I’m not 5 minutes back in dreamland when a loud alarm goes off at 8:00 AM.  “—!  Uhnn”

She sighs, “It’s my phone,” she clarifies, “Sorry about that.”

“’sokay,nowurries,” I mumble as I turn to my back.

“Yeah, I should remember to sile—” she’s frozen stiff.

I turn my head to her, wondering why she’s suddenly quiet, “Beesly?”  Still nothing.  Getting more alert, I sit up, scooch to her, and prop myself up.  “Bees, are you okay?”  After I wrap my arm around her shoulders, she finally exhales, so at least I know she’s physically okay.  I can tell she’s deep in thought, staring off, so I don’t press it.  I still gotta say something, though.  “Listen, you don’t have to talk to me right now.  Just know I’m right here if—”

“I was supposed to get married in four hours.”

…Oh, my God.

Today’s the reason I left.  The reason she turned me down.  The reason we even asked for paid vacations in the first place.  The reason why we’re even here right now.

The reason we’re together.

A month ago, I was dreading today.  Even with me not there, I tried to figure out how the hell I was going to deal with it, then suddenly everything became a dream that I never wanna wake up from.  This is only the second time I’ve seen her in person since we started dating, yet it doesn’t seem that way.  We’ve been so happy, so fulfilled, and it completely slipped my mind.  It slipped hers, too.  Now she’s dragged back.

She’s about to break down, trying to hide it.  It’s killing me seeing her like this, trying to not bring it up so I wouldn’t be uncomfortable.  Honestly?  Yeah, the subject does make me uncomfortable.  But the longest relationship I’ve ever had was just under ten months.  She’s been with Roy for just under ten years.  She knows of no other relationship besides him and me.  It kinda makes me scared that she’ll see I’m not good enough for her; I still wonder how the hell she thinks it’s the other way around.  While we’re happy now — we’ve never been happier — there’s still baggage we both need to let go of.

And right now, she’s in mourning.

“Hey…”  As I bring her to me, she instinctively clutches onto me, crying.  I stroke her hair, just doing my best to calm her down.

“I-I’m ss-o-rry-I—”

“Shhhh,” I whisper, “Don’t hide anything.  Just let it go.”  She’s crying even harder now.

She needs this.  I hate everything about what’s going on right now, but she needs this.  But to see her this broken over her ex, an ex that never even had to lay a hand on her to make her feel more and more dependent on him, all the while being neglected…

I wanna kick Roy’s ass.  (As if I didn’t want to before, what with that voodoo doll in my old bedroom that I threw away.)

She relaxes, then looks up at me, noticing she got tear stains on my pajama shirt.  “Sorry about that.”

I shake my head, giving her a playful shrug, “That’s why I brought two.”  She wants to chuckle at that, so that helps.

She looks away, ashamed, “This is so stupid.”


“Because this weekend’s been amazing and you’ve just been… you, and I’ve never been happier,” she takes a deep breath, trying to calm herself, “and now here I am breaking down over someone I don’t even love anymore.”

“Baby, look at me,” I gently turn her face so I can get through to her, “I-I can’t lie, I don’t wanna think about Roy right now.”  Dammit, Halpert, she’s about to cry again.  Dumbass.  “But,” I manage to stop it right in its tracks, “I’m not the one going through something.  You are.”

“I know, but—”

“This isn’t something you can rush.  It’s only been three weeks, you need time to process everything.”  Saying that made me consider something I haven’t before, a pang in my chest when I realize it.  “I made the mistake of not giving you the time you need.  I am not doing that to you ever again.”  I hold her tighter so she knows.  “I should’ve been here, to begin with.  I’m here now, Beesly, and I am not leaving.”

She responds with a “Thank you,” prepping her next sob.

All I can do is hold her and just let her cry some more.  At least she’s comforted now, she’s calming down.  Good.  After a bit, she shifts to look up at me, a loving smile growing on her lips.  She’s okay.  She’s okay.

And out of nowhere, she reaches around and starts kissing me, our bodies shifting so that I’m on my back, her on top of me.  Well, guess she’s feeling better now!

As we pull apart, she whispers “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”  With a peck on my forehead, she gets comfortable, head resting on my chest.  “Is there anything I can do?”

“No,” she answers honestly, still wearing the smile, “but thank you.”

I return it.  “Are you sure?”  A nod.  “Not even this?” I then initiate a tickle fight, her finally laughing and enjoying herself, much to my relief.  Luckily, for me, I know all of her pressure points, but what I failed to take into account is that she knows all of mine as well.  Amid our war, I end up on top of her and…

The air shifts.  Heavy breaths, hungry eyes, hearts 500 beats per minute.  We’re at this point now.  I think we’re about to do… more.  I’m terrified out of my mind.

“Jim?” she barely whispers, her hand caressing my cheek.

Is this it?  “Y-yeah?” I whisper, not sure how this is gonna pan out.

All she does is give me a peck on the lips, whispering “Love me.”

And I do.

For the next hour and a half, our “Lazy Day” was everything but.

Sometime after, we get ourselves cleaned up (it takes us a while), change into some clean PJs, then snuggle and be annoyingly lovey-dovey until we start getting hungry.

It’s now 11:00 A.M. — an hour before Roy’s fiancé Pam Beesly was supposed to get married — and I’m here in a hotel room in Philly, eating yet another variant of a cheesesteak (this time from room service), watching a rerun of 24 and my girlfriend Pam Beesly is eating alongside me, lovingly telling me to get enough food in my system.  If you would have told me that this would happen four years ago, I’d be like “Yeah, I wish”.  Now it’s happening!  It’s actually fucking happening!

And now, I’m… me.  I’m more ‘me’ than I have been in a long, long time.

Well, Ryan, congratulations.  You won your bet.  I’m spending a nice weekend in Philadelphia, as you astutely suspected.  A very nice weekend.  Be sure to keep the desk tidy while I’m gone.  Oh, and uh, mind the Schrute fingernails.

3.06 Diwali

“There you go.”  Kelly is dressing Ryan in his sharpest-looking kurta for a special event tonight.

Michael can’t help but let out a small laugh, “Nice dress, Ryan.”

“It’s not a dress,” Kelly clarifies, “It’s a kurta.”

“O-okay,” Michael keeps laughing.  He respects all cultures and walks of life.

“Tonight, one of our most ethnic co-workers, Kelly,” Michael begins to the doc crew as eloquently as possible, “has invited us all to a Diwali celebration put on by her community.  What is Diwali, you may ask?  Well, to have Kelly explain it,” he impersonates, “‘It’s a— uh, blah blah blah, it’s so super fun and it’s going to be great.’”  The sad part is he’s not too far off.  “Lot of gods with unpronounceable names.  Twenty minutes later you find out that it is essentially a Hindu Halloween.”

Michael respects all cultures and walks of life.

Footage from earlier presents Michael and Kelly bringing it up to Jan.  She found it to be a great idea, mentioning the importance of celebrating the company’s rich diversity amongst its staff members; she regrets that Michael didn’t call sooner so the company could charter a bus or even be a sponsor to the event (It’s always something).  He says it’s a bit much for Kelly.

“She’s so wonderful,” Kelly said.

“Yeah,” Michael agreed, “you should see her naked.”

Cut back to the present, “You look so handsome,” she tells Ryan.

“You really do,” Pam compliments, “I love the material.”

“I know.”

After a quick, pathetic glance from Ryan to the camera, Michael’s now upset he didn’t get one after insulting it not 20 seconds ago.  Aw.

Later, in the conference room, Phyllis divvies people so they can all have a ride; as she’s talking, Pam sees her cell ring and, with an annoyed face, hangs up.  “Okay, so, between Meredith’s mini-van and if I borrow Bob’s Yukon,” Phyllis charts, “that should fit about twelve people.”

“I actually… might not go,” Pam laments to the others, “Feeling kind of tired.”  Meredith offers to take her to Appletini’s and watch Sex and the City at her place; Pam hasn’t decided yet.

Later, back at reception, Kelly begs Pam to go, asking her what she did wrong.  She reuses her excuse, and Dwight adds she might have mono.  The real reason?  She doesn’t have a plus one.

She just wants him home.

“Well, go with Dwight,” Kelly offers, “He’s single, too.  Right?”

“Yeah,” he claims, “totally single.  Hundred percent available.”  Angela, peering from her cubicle, watches on in remorse.

Kevin asks everyone in the breakroom who’s going to Diwali, and Roy, all too curious, asks who’s going.

Kevin’s enjoying this, “Do you mean like, is Pam going?”  Though Roy’s face is unchanging, he’s shaking on the inside.

“Don’t go,” Angela advises, “They eat monkey brains.”

“Hey.  Hey.  Hey, stop that,” Michael chastises, “That is offensive, Indians do not eat monkey brains.”  He enunciates what he’s saying to sound more offended than he actially is.  “And if they do… sign me up!  Because I am sure that they are very tasty and nutritional.”  He makes a point about celebrating diversity, and tells Stanley he’s got him covered for Kwanza, which Stanley doesn’t celebrate.  Michael thinks he should, it’s fun!

“I love the people here,” Michael makes a point to the crew, “And if there was one thing I di— don’t really care for is that they can be terribly, terribly ignorant about other cultures.  And I don’t want them embarrassing me in front of my girlfriend, Carol.”

Michael respects all cultures and walks of life.

In the conference room (because it’s always the conference room), Michael invites Kelly to discuss Diwali further.

“Um… Diwali is awesome,” Kelly begins, “and there’s food, and there’s going to be dancing, and— Oh!  I  got the raddest outfit.  It has, um…”

Michael wants her to give a lesson, “Um, why don’t you tell us a little bit about the origins of the holiday.”

“Oh, u-um… I don’t know, it’s really old, I think.”

“How many gods do you have?” the devout Christian Angela snidely remarks.  She points at the “blue busty gal,” who — according to Kevin — looks like Pam from the waist down.

“Pam wishes,” Dwight comments, which somehow gets a small laugh in agreement from everyone else, Pam looking at the camera in exasperation.  I’m in the damn room!

Michael allows Dwight to take the reins, “Diwali is a celebration of the coronation of the God-King Rama, after his epic battle with Ravana, the Demon King of Lanka.  It symbolizes the battle between good and evil—”
“This isn’t Lord of the Rings.”

Michael respects all cultures and walks of life.

Meanwhile, in Stamford, Jim has started biking to work, as is revealed when he accidentally knocks the bike into the chair by Andy’s desk.  He is nonplussed.

Jim elaborates to the crew, “Josh does it and he lives a lot farther away than I do.”  Cue footage of Josh Porter entering the office, looking like he just came home after the Tour de France.  “And also it saves gas money, keeps me in shape, helps the environment… and now I know it makes me really sweaty for work,” he smirks as the realization hits him.

Jim texts Pam on the way to his desk.  “Texting on the clock?” Karen jokes, “I’m ashamed, Halpert.”

Jim smiles, hiding his frustrations, “Yup, I have gone full-on corrupt.”

“It was only a matter of time,” Karen quips.  As she gets to work, the camera pans back out to show Jim doing the same, sighing through his nose in frustration, continuing to chastise himself.

He just wants to go home.

“Now, a lot of people say that Kelly is one in a million and that’s true,” Michael continues in the conference room, but it’s also not true.  Because, frankly, there are literally billions of people just like Kelly in the world.”  Profound.

He sites some famous Indian figures throughout history, including:
— Nobel prize-winning physicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.  (Pam’s shocked he found a good example.)
— Kwik-E-Mart store runner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon of The Simpsons.  (Kevin likes him, he’s funny.)
— World-famous director M. Night Shyamalan.  (Dwight spoils The Sixth Sense to his coworkers.)
— Michael and Carol kissing— “Oh, whoa!” Michael laughs in ‘shock,’ “Where did that come from?”

Not only does Michael respect all cultures and walks of life, but he’s also a class act to boot.

As Jim continues to work his frustrations away, fellow Sales Representative Tony Gardner asks Karen for a favor, “Karen, my chips got stuck in the vending machine again.  I need your skinny, little arms.”

“Oh,” Karen agrees to help, “Did you shake it?” she whispers.

“Yeah, I shook it, I shook it,” he whispers back.

Naturally, this gives Andy time to BS as he tells Jim about his and Karen’s “history”, “We have such a roller coaster thing, Karen and I.”

Um, “’Scuse me?”

“Roller-coastery friendship.  Hot, cold.  On again, off again, sexual tension-filled type of deal.”  Hm, fascinating.  “It’s very Sam and Diane.”

Jim doesn’t know how to respond to this but “Wow.”
“From Cheers.”
“Yup.”  God, I need a drink.

Michael managed to find, of all things, the Kama Sutra, that he hands to everyone in the office.  While Creed, Kevin, and Meredith are getting into it, Angela finds it offensive and doesn’t want to see it (with a subtle jab at Kelly to boot); Toby agrees with her, collecting them, much to Michael’s chagrin.

Michael laments to the crew, “My Indian Culture Seminar was going great until Toby decided that he was too immature to deal with culturally explicit images.”  Yeah, that’s what happened.  “It’s just sex, people, everybody does it!  I’m doing it… with Carol!  Probably tonight.”  Again, class act.

Josh, leaving his office with his bike, hands Karen the company card for the salespeople to grab dinner since they’ll be staying late.  Jim explains why to the crew, “Once a quarter, the sales staff at this branch has to stay late to do order form consolidation… which, amazingly, is even less interesting than it sounds.”

After telling Karen to keep it at $20 per person, Josh departs; she flashes a knowing grin at Jim, who smiles back.

With a Stamford Smile.

He’s used it for a while now, but no one’s caught it yet, not even Karen.

“You guys ready to party?” Andy asks.

The two other sales reps look up from their monitors.  “What’s that?” Jim asks.

“I said…” and, out of nowhere, Andy pulls out three shot glasses and some Jägermeister, “are you ready to PAH-TAY!”  He shows them off with a very Bernard grin.

Jim’s face remains stoic as he raises his eyebrows.

He wants in.

Diwali is in full swing when the office staff arrives, shoeless (Angela does not approve).  And in comes Carol and Michael in Halloween costumes.

“I thought you said this was a costume party!” she chastises in her cheerleader costume.

Michael, sporting his papier-mâché head from the year before, points a woman out, “What does that look like to you?”

“An Indian woman in a sari,” Carol answers, already annoyed.

Michael assures her that no one will even notice until Kevin walks by and calls it an outfit, to which Michael has to clarify it’s a costume.  Carol’s patience is tried.

After Angela asks what is vegetarian, which is everything (she just takes some naan bread instead), Michael can’t help but find the food gross as he spits it out.

“What?  Too spicy?” Carol asks.

“No.  These s’mores are disgusting.”

“They’re not s’mores, they’re samosas.”

“…Do you think they have any s’mores?”

Michael respects all cultures and walks of life.

Elsewhere, Kelly’s parents tell her they don’t approve of Ryan, since he’s a temporary worker that doesn’t make enough money, and they have a better option lined up for her.  (Listen to your parents, Kelly, they have a point.)  To add insult to injury, Kelly’s sisters laugh at Ryan, calling him ‘Zach Braff’.  An admittedly apt comparison.

Pam decides to come after all, though she feels a little underdressed.  “But at least I’m not dressed like a slutty cheerleader, right? …Is that mean?”  Carol was thankfully out of earshot.

Dwight arrives in his own kurta.  Angela, naturally, is not happy.

At the very least, Michael is getting into the festivities.  This makes Carol smile, but she quickly becomes pensive.

Hey, Big Tuna, you ready?” Andy asks.

“Yep,” Jim answers.

“One… Two…. Three… Shot!”  The first shot is taken, with all of them shaken to their cores.

Jim turns to Karen, “Oh, Holy Mother of God.”  Wow, I needed this.

“Oh, that burns!” Andy shouts, “Golly.  Mm.”

Karen seems relatively unphased despite her facial expressions.  That’s because the drink is in the trash bin and not her system.

Jim and Andy will pay for this later.

Pam is dancing with a cute Indian guy, enjoying herself, in walks… Roy.  As soon as he sees her with him, he walks back out, dejected.

This won’t be the last time he does that.

Meanwhile, Michael has a lovely chat with Kelly’s parents, “Wow, thirty years?  And you two only met once before the wedding night?”

“Yes,” Mr. Kapoor answers.


“How long have you been married to the cheerleader?”

Michael notices Carol dancing, “Oh!  She’s not a cheerleader, she thought this was a costume party!”  Yeah, that’s what happened.  “Um… no, we’re not married… yet!”

“She is very fair,” Mrs. Kapoor compliments.

“She is.  Very fair and very kind.”  That genuinely sweet statement is quickly followed by this one, “So, um, tell me, is your marriage the kind of thing where when you die she has to throw herself on a fire?”  They shake their heads.  “No?  Okay.  It’s still very cool.”  Carol walks by and gets him on the dance floor, a smart move.  “Okay.  Thanks!”

Michael respects all cultur

“One… Two…. Three… Shot!” Andy announces yet again.

Karen’s drink is in the trash bin and not her system yet again.

Jim and Andy will pay for this later.

When Carol and Ryan meet for the first time, he discovers that Michael has a very intense liking to him.  He’s not surprised by this, but naturally he’s had to find out from Michael’s own girlfriend.  He wishes he can just disappear.

Back at the dance floor, Michael keeps staring at Kelly’s parents, a bad idea forming in his head.

“Are you okay?” Carol comes by and asks him, concerned.

“I’m gonna be.”

And here comes the bad idea: “Um, everyone?” Michael addresses the crowd from the stage, mic in hand, “Sorry.  I just have an announcement to make.”  Ryan really wants to disappear.  “Um, okay.  I have learned a lot about Indian culture tonight.  But I have learned even more about… love.”  Oh no.  “And I know you’re all thinking ‘Who is this crazy gringo and what is he talking about?’  Well, I’m not crazy.  Maybe I’m crazy in love.”  No no no.  “So, without further ado… Carol?  Carol Stills.  I would like you to do me the honor of making me your husband.”

Pam’s reaction, once again, says it all.

The crowd is touched by this.  Carol, suffice it to say, is not.  “…Oh, Michael.”

“What do you say?”  The sad, sad man.

She attempts to handle this as delicately as possible, “Can we talk about this in private?”

“I didn’t hear you,” he laughs.

“Can we talk about this in private?”  She has to repeat herself louder to get through to him.

And then it hits him.  “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me, okay,” he mumbles as he drops the mic.

Then the awkward conversation moves outside, “No, I get it, I get it,” he tells Carol, not getting it, “You’re not ready.  We’ll wait.  This is a classic—”

“This is the ninth date, Michael.”

“Yeah, well, but I… I feel like I’ve known you many lifetimes.”  No, you haven’t.  “Maybe I’m Hindu after all. …Okay, I’m not… Hindu, but… Carol.  Carol.”  She hears him out.  “I just… I feel like… I just like you so much.”  She’s well aware.

“I better go.  Okay, you can find a way home, all right?”



“Okay… okay.  Good night.”  He doesn’t know when to quit.  “Hey, you know what?  Why don’t I come with you?  ’Cause I’ve got this book called the Kama Sutra.”
“Okay, good night, Michael.”
“All right…  Good night!”

Back inside, Ryan decides to flaunt himself in front of Kelly’s parents.  Big mistake.  “Well, I was a temp, but I got promoted.  So, um… the compensation is a lot more competitive.”

Mrs. Kapoor is impressed, “So you’re saving money”
“to start a family and home.”

He’s quick on his feet, “Oh, um, or travel.  And, um, and buy an Xbox.”

They’re curious, “Is there anything you wanted to ask us tonight?” Mr. Kapoor asks.

Ryan desperately wants to disappear.

After failing to talk to the guy she danced with earlier, Pam exists the auditorium briefly to text Jim, hoping to hear from him.  She sees Angela, slowly chewing on the naan bread.

“It’s hot in there,” Pam tells her.  More chewing.  “How’s the naan?”

“Dry,” Angela replies emotionlessly, “You look like you were having fun.”

“I am.”  Kinda.  “You should come dance with us.”

“I have to watch our shoes so they don’t get stolen.”  Angela noticed something earlier.  “Who were you texting?”

Oh, God.  “No one,” she answers, walking back inside and still texting.

Angela still looks at Pam as she departs.

Unsurprisingly, Jim and Andy are both drunk off their asses.  So drunk that a sleepy Jim doesn’t even notice his phone vibrating.

Naturally, Andy starts singing some Indio Girls, lying on the floor, “Wwen’ doo de doctorr.  I wwen’-doo de mountainns.  I looked to the children—”
“Andy, no acapella.”  Karen’s not a fan.

…I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain.”

Enter Jim, mumbling the lyrics.

“Wait, wait,” Andy stops him, beginning an epic duet.  Andy puts his all into it, while Jim just mumbles more lyrics.  It ends up waking Jim, with an exuberant Andy complimenting his pipes, “TUNA!  Are you kidding me?!”

Karen’s still not a fan.

A dejected Michael sits on the stairs of the building, eating more Indian food (and choking on it).  Pam walks outside to join him, handing him a drink; she keeps checking her phone.  I wouldn’t answer either…

“Oh,” Michael notices, “You waiting for a call?”

“Uh… no,” she lies.  Michael laments to her how they’re both victims of broken engagements (though he was never engaged but rather “that marriage arena”), And after a mutual sigh, Pam reveals her biggest regret, “I kind of thought something would happen tonight too.”

“We’re so alike,” he comments, “So alike…” and he leans in to kiss her.

Michael!  “What are you doing?”

“What are you doing?” he parrots.

“I’m rejecting”

“I didn’t…” he attempts to scoff it off, to no avail.  After a good bit of awkward silence, he humbly asks, “Can I have a ride home?”

GOD.  “If you sit in the back.”

As Karen departs, Jim asks Andy for a ride home, but unfortunately, Andy can’t but he did come prepared: an inflatable mattress!  So Jim, in all his infinite wisdom, decides to try the bike anyway

*clang!* “…Uhh.”

and falls straight into a bush.

Thankfully, Karen catches him before the police do, “Hey dummy, get in the car!” she shouts at him with a smile.

“’m a drunk driver,” Jim states far too casually.

“Yes, you are,” she hurriedly but happily alleviates the situation, “Here.  Let me take that,” she grabs the bike, “Just… uh… get in the car.”

Jim continues to not know what planet he’s on, “Man, you can really hold your liquor, ‘Billabelli’.”

“Yeah, you can’t.”

“No kidding,” he stumbles to the back of her SUV, “And I… am just going to lie down in the back, if that’s all right.”

“Sure.  Here’s your bag,” she hands it to her, “Just don’t puke on anything.”  She walks back to the front seat.  “You okay?”

“I miss Pam.”

Karen pauses for a split second, not expecting the reveal of information she’s probably not supposed to know.  She turns to look at him and takes an educated guess, “I-is that your girlfriend?”

“Yeah,” he deadpans.

She quickly scrambles to think of something, “I’m sure you’ll get to see her again soon.”

“Yeah.”  Same delivery.

She takes a breath, shaking off what just happened, and drives him back.

A very pissed-off Pam is pulling into Michael’s neighborhood to drop him off.

He makes a discovery, “These are not my shoes,” he says through a sigh.  Why me, God?  He chuckles, “This is just like that show Taxi Cab Confessions—”

“We’re here,” she curtly states, “Get out.”

“All right,” as he gets off the cab he says, “‘Tank you, tank you’” in his best Lawrence Welk.


“Well, see you in the morning!” he shuts the door.

“You probably won’t,” she says, making sure he’s out of earshot.  He won’t.

She’s about to hit the gas out of here… when she gets a voicemail.

[“Hey, Beeezz,”] a drunken Jim greets.  She sighs in relief.  [“Listen, I am… super drunk right now but no worries, I’m home safe, I’ll talk’bout it later, but I have some things I need t’say now.]
She nods her head.

[“I read your text messages, and I went straight voicemail because I wanna be sober next time we talk.]
She moves her head as if to say ‘Smart.’

[“I’m sorry for a lot of things.  I accidentally told Karen your name, I— the fight last night, all the not calling as much ’n all that, i-it hasn’t been easy for either of us, but… I’m just sorry.]
Her eyes are getting misty.

[“I don’t wan’ us to live in Stamford, either.  Karen’s great, but… every time I walk in there I’m reminded of where I went wrong.  And I really tried to find other jobs, y’know?  Johnathan doesn’t have any openings and ther’s nothing nearby so I’m just stuck here.  Even though I just wanna go back home.]
“Me, too,” she thinks out loud.

[“But I can’t because that’ll mean a demotion.  I’ll lose all the clients, benefits, and… I’ll be giving up, and I don’t wanna do that.]
She continues to talk like he can hear her, “Jim, that’s not—”

[“I just… I already let you down once.  I won’t do that again.]
Tears threaten her eyes as she shakes her head ‘no’ at that emphatically.

[“…But I just m-miss you.  And I don’t wanna be al-lone anymore.]
She quietly breaks down, not unlike the time she claimed to be fine with her choices.

[“I’m *sniffle* ’m taking the day off tomorrow.  Then you and I can talk wheneeever you want.]
She breathes out, getting herself in check.

[“That’s it, I’ll go.  I lo—”] and the timer runs out.

She immediately calls him back, hoping that they get in touch.  [“Oh’ey.”]  Though he’s more coherent, he’s still coming down from the buzz.

“I’m so sorry, baby, I-I miss you too,” she answers, attempting to conceal her tears.

[“Hey… don’ cry.”]

“I-I’ll stop,” she reassures, getting herself composed, “I’m taking the day off tomorrow.  I’m driving over there early, and-and I’m leaving late.”

[“Pam, you don’t have t—”]

“And you can’t stop me, Halpert,” she starts to smile, “So suck it.”

He sighs, [“So demanding, Beesly.”]  He lightly laughs as she giggles alongside him.  [“We’ll be okay.”]

“Yeah,” she agrees, “We’ll be okay.”  Her tears are finally gone.

We’ll be okay.
We’ll be okay.

Cue footage from earlier that night, where Michael performs a beautiful melody, alongside Dwight with his guitar.

“This is going out to Indians everywhere.  It’s a tribute to one of the greats.  Mr. Adam Sandler.”  He begins his performance, “Diwaaliii iss a feistival of lights.  Let me tell you something, tonight has been one craaazy niiight… So put on your saris, it’s time to celebrate Diwali. / Everybody looks so jolly, but it’s not Christmas, it’s Diwali.

The goddess of destruction Kali stopped by toh cehlehbrate Diwahlii!
It’s the next morning.  Karen sits at her desk, doing her work as usual, and the camera pans to the right to reveal Jim’s empty desk.

Don’t invite any zombies to a cehlehbratiohn ooof Dih-wah-liii!
Around the same time, Angela walks by the copier, noticing the reception desk, also empty.

Alooohng caaame Pollyyyh to hahve some fun aht Diwhaleeh! / If you’re Indian andyou looohve to pahrtayyy, have a hah-ppeh, hah-ppeh,
Around the same time, a messy-haired, hungover Jim answers the door to find Pam; they quickly wrap their arms around each other, her ear pressed to his chest as he kisses the top of her head.  They smile.

hah-ppeh, hah-ppeh Diw-aah-leeeh!  Happy Diwali!”

Michael’s beautiful tribute was met with a round of applause.

Ryan, trying to clap in support, attempts to disappear and fails.

Chapter End Notes:

Timeline EDIT — Diwali was celebrated on Saturday, 21 October in 2006 and Tuesday, 1 November in 2005.  I decided to have the date of this Diwali be Wednesday, 25 October 2006.  I made Diwali closer to the 2006 date instead of November 1 like I originally wrote it because I wanted the following two chapters to take place realistically, a full 3+ weeks in between when the merger is finalized and when it commences.

The Monologue — Probably my favorite of the JAM monologues (there are only 2 left, then it’s the rest of the cast), so of course I talk about it the most.  And the more upbeat half of the story, it seems!
I wanted to give Jim a reason WHY he loves Philadelphia so much, especially after Athlead; the closest I could guess is the fact his favorite sports teams are stationed there, but that doesn’t feel substantial enough.
This was hinted at a couple of chapters ago, but Pam’s breakdown over the wedding and Jim’s reaction to it is the launching point of what can be considered the “main conflict” of the story.  With this alternate S3, I want to explore how her leaving Roy right after Casino Night will impact her, Roy, and Jim.
I thoroughly enjoyed writing that last paragraph.  That talking head from “Dwight’s Speech” is the spark that Ryan’s character throughout the rest of the series, so why not pay it homage in the snarkiest way imaginable?
Lastly, I decided they should travel by train because they did it for the convention and, more importantly, trains are cool.

The Episode — This portion has a lot of snark, but that was to help me get through it because this was just a slog.  Oh, quality-wise it’s great!  But after the hilarity of “Initiation”, this was just depressing.  From Michael’s awkward proposal to Carol to Ryan’s interactions with Kelly’s family to Michael almost kissing Pam?  What the hell?  Not to mention Stamford’s weirdest and imo worst subplot.  Everyone references Jim’s pratfall as a haha-funee-joek but, biking drunk is a felony?  Under Connecticut State Law?  Yeah, it’s a funny pratfall, but put it in context and it’s just… pft, wow.  Karen saved his damn life.  Then again it’s Andy, so of course, it was a dreadful idea.  With Jim’s poor choice in mind, I upped the ante here with a “why”, since there wasn’t one in the show.  I decided on a voicemail instead of a conversation as to not get Michael involved.
I will say, the Diwali song?  Worth it.

Johnathan Halpert — So apparently there’s this “fandom lore” regarding this couple that I wasn’t privy to until, like, December 2020.  Before Tom and Pete were introduced in Season 5 as Jim’s older siblings (establishing Jim’s penchant for pranks), there was an older brother figure for Jim created by the fans named “Johnathan” (“Jonathan”?).  I was introduced to the fan-made character himself when reading an old fic on this site, Five Times Jim Swept Pam Off Her Feet by Strawberry Fields, which is a good read (the last chapter inspiring a key moment in this story, actually).  And it wasn’t until reading the third chapter of warrior4’s The New Guy that I learned about the legacy this character has, specifically on this site.  warrior made him a cousin rather than a brother in his story (thus more canon complacent) which I found to be a compelling idea that I wanted to explore myself.  I figured a cousin Johnathan could show up in Part 2 of this series (All I Ever Knew), with an expanded role.  Thanks again, warrior!

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