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Story Notes:
Hope you enjoy this story! The before and after in this story refer to before and after the booze cruise. If that wasn’t already clear. Feel free to leave a review or a jellybean (if you feel like it, of course).

Jim learned 3 things that day he met Pam.

1. She's the funniest, most beautiful person he's ever known
2. She's engaged.
3. And he's totally and completely in love with her.

Ever since that day, going to work has felt like an act of courage. He quickly learned that in order to survive, you have to live for the little things. Sharing chips in the break room and stolen glances in meetings.
He's in constant awe of her, and her ability to fill him with so much life, and then take it all away.
He's looking at himself in the mirror. He's been doing that a lot lately. It's not like he finds joy in the act of studying his face for hours, in fact it's the furthest thing from that. The mirror is, in many ways, his last resort. Where he goes when all he can do is think of her. Where he goes when he needs to try to find his fatal flaw, the fatal flaw that stands between them. The flaw that spells out in big, plain letters, why he's not enough for her.
He should probably go to bed, even if he knows it's no use. He's lost more sleep over her, and their beautifully mundane relationship than he would like to admit. He knows tonight will be no different. Because she makes no exceptions when she floods his mind. Even when he's tangled in the sheets with another woman, his nights belong to her. He, in almost every way, belongs to her.

Katy was fuming in the passenger seat. Her delicate arms crossed against her chest, and her cheek pressed up against the window. You could cut the tension with a knife.
“I don't get it, I mean…I'm beautiful, and fun, and I like you even if you're a huge dork! Why in the hell are you breaking up with me?!” Katy asked him, her tone incredibly demanding. She reminds him of his old grade school principal.

He just shook his head, and after a moment of horrific silence he said, “I'm sorry, it's just…” he couldn't figure out how to end the sentence. How to expose his deepest secret to her. That he's desperately in love with Pam Beesly, and she just set a date for her wedding.

Katy just stared at him for a moment, a look of utter disbelief on her face. Jim kept his eyes on the road, trying to keep the tears that he had been fighting all night at bay.
Katy's shirt was still on the floor of his room from the night before. She had opted to wear an old work shirt of his instead of wearing her own.
Jim knelt down and picked up the soft pink garment. He realized in that moment, that his room was full of her things. Now existing only to remind him of a simpler, easier time. When he could still tell himself that Pam was “just a workplace crush”.

He put on his pajamas and slipped under the covers, inhaling the lingering scent of Katy's Victoria's Secret perfume. He had been with her the day she bought it. Sitting in the food court, waiting for her to come back with his “special surprise,” (which wound up being a new bra and panties set for her). In that moment he desperately wished that his sheets smelled of fabric, jellybeans, and stale coffee. Of the woman he loves.

He knows that he should leave Scranton, get out while he still can. Get out before the emotional scars fill his body and he has no choice except to surrender. Yet, he can't. Because the idea of leaving her somehow hurts more than the idea of watching her marry Roy. Jim will happily be a bystander if it means he gets to see her beautiful face every day.

God, her face. The image of her on the boat's deck is forever seared into his memory. Her cheeks pink from the cold, her hair a magnificent mess of curls. He should have told her. Let the years of pinning and misplaced love come to light.
But he couldn't. Not when the engagement ring on her finger, acting as a cruel reminder that in the end, she's not his to save.
Chapter End Notes:
Thanks for reading!

Debutante_gurl is the author of 5 other stories.

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