They hung back, allowing the chaos of their bosses face being covered in cement to be their cover. Jim was the one to do it. He knelt down, taking his finger and drawing a heart in the cement. Inside of the heart he wrote J + P.
“There,” he said, “now everyone will know. J loves P.”
“Hopefully we don't break up, because that would be awkward,” she told him, a smile on her face.
His arm snaked around her waist, pulling her to him.
“I'm not worried about that,” he said.
His heart was racing, the ring sitting heavy in his pocket. He was just amazed that he had managed to lie to Michael about where he was going without throwing up, that's how bad his nerves were. He hasn't felt like this since, well, since that night in the very same parking lot he stood in now. It was that night that he decided that he would marry her, the way she looked in that blue dress made him imagine her in a certain white one.
He’s had the ring for so long now, and he was ready to get rid of it. For the first few weeks that he had it, it stayed in his nightstand, but then she started spending the night, so he moved it to his closet, and finally, his jacket pocket.
He looked down at the heart at his feet, saying a silent prayer that the mark in the cement wouldn’t be a mistake in a few hours. She was going to say yes, right? At the very least, if she said no, he still got the chance to love her. And he wouldn't trade that for the world.
She paused in the parking lot, peering down at the concrete heart over her ever growing belly. She forgot it was there sometimes, a little monument to their love. But today, today it was all she could think about.
Their baby would be here soon, and it made her think about their story, and what parts they will tell their child. The baby doesn’t need to know, (at least not right away), about her failed engagement, and the four hearts that were broken in the year following it. Their child wouldn't need to know the pain, but she hoped that they would know the love. She couldn't wait to explain why grilled cheese sandwiches were still her and Jims go-to date food, or why the blue dress in the back of her closet was one of her prized possessions. She couldn't wait for their baby to know the love that created them.
Cece had started to calm down as they exited the building, but Phillip was still showing off his impressive set of lungs. Cece kicked him in the ribs, begging to be put down. He obliged simply because that kid was STRONG, and he liked not having bruised ribs. She wandered around a bit, poking at the landscaping and the stroller that her brother currently resided in. Then, she spotted it. The big hole in the cement, and next to it, the heart with her parent’s initials in it.
“Dad,” she called out “it's like you and Mama!”
Jim walked over, leaving a still very overwhelmed Pam to load Phillip into the car. They really needed to get home.
“Yeah, that's right Cece.” he said to her, scooping her up into his arms.
She was still pointing at it, mesmerized by the carving. It really wasn't anything special, but she was fascinated.
“Like you and Mama.” she repeated.
“Uh huh, your Mama and I put that there before you were born.” he told her.
“Wow!” she examined. He smiled, she may be a nightmare sometimes, but damn was it amazing to watch her discover the world, and discover the life he lived before her.
Later, when it was bedtime, and she was tucked into bed, finally calm after the day of tantrums and defiance, he heard her asking her Mama about the heart. He smiled as Pam told her about how Mom and Dad had snuck away to draw it shortly after they started dating, and how it's a little reminder of how much they love each other.
Once Cece was finally down and Pam came into the hall, he pulled her into a kiss. His lips lingered on hers, he wanted to soak her in. She was his greatest gift in life, and watching her be a mother to their children somehow made him love her even more. And there are days like today when he just doesn't understand how he got so lucky.
“What was that for?” she asked as he pulled away, his hands on his waist.
“I just love you, that's all.” he told her.
“That's all?” she asked with a laugh.
“Oh, be quiet” he said as he leaned down to kiss the smile off her face. God, he loves this woman.
The ice had frozen over it, making it a bit hard to make out, but all that mattered to her was that it was there.
She swears, her heart breaks a little every time they have to say goodbye. He is her other half, and being apart from him rips her open.
She is drowning. Drowning in responsibility, in emotion, in love for him, and the life they built together. He’s not her Jim anymore, he’s some strange new Jim. one who is suddenly obsessed with “building something better”, and the idea of uprooting their family. Why wasn’t the life they built in Scranton enough, why do they need something better?
She traced the heart with her toe, emphasizing the J + P. It was a small miracle that the heart hadn’t been filled in when Michaels face hole was, she likes to imagine it’s because the guy who did it was a romantic. A man who can recognize that this little, cheesy heart carved into wet cement five years ago is her Taj Mahal.
She hopes that it stays forever. That even if they implode, a marriage becoming nothing more than rubble, that this will stay. That this good memory will never be taken from her.
“Perfect!” She exclaimed as he pulled his hand out from the slab of wet cement right in front of their house.
It now reads “J + P, forever and always,” In Pam’s messy handwriting.
“I love it.” He told her.
“Now we just need to get one of the kids to stick their faces in the cement right next to it.” He said, causing her to break into laughter.
“What? I’m not kidding!” He told her, even if he was, totally kidding. “It’s THE best way to leave your mark”.
“You're wrong, but I still love you.”
“I love you too.”
In the end, no one stuck their face in the cement, but Phillip did get his shoes stuck in it.