“Are you okay?” Pam asks loudly from his bed, concerned for his health.
“Yeah,” he responds from the bathroom, “that should be the last of it.”
Jim’s drunken stupor from the night before leaves Pam feeling a crushing guilt. Despite the fight being built up on both sides, she believes that she’s the one that instigated it; the worst part is that the subject of the fight was so innocuous that it didn’t feel worth it. Meanwhile, there’s Jim, feeling bad for how he handled things, hungover as hell because he had to open his damn mouth.
The whole long-distance thing gets more intense by the day.
Soon after his last vomit session, he plops on his bed and scoots towards her, who’s sitting up slightly. He then wraps his arms around her, resting his head on her chest and sighing out his now mouthwash-scented breath. “Forgiven?”
She smiles at him, “And forgotten.” He smiles back as she leans down to kiss the top of his head. He closes his eyes and groans. “You’ll be alright.”
“I know,” he mumbles.
Sitting in comfortable silence, she suddenly notices a toy truck on his desk, looking at it curiously. “Where’d you get that?”
Facing his desk, he quickly figures out what she means, “The toy truck?”
“Oh, that was from Mom. One of my childhood toys. She mailed it with my birthday gift.”
“Your mom mailed you an old toy for your twenty-eighth birthday?”
“She got me a shaving kit, Beesly,” he smirks, “An old toy wasn’t exactly on my wish list.”
“Oh, shut up,” she smiles. She’s surprised he has the energy to quip. “That still doesn’t answer my question.”
“My folks were sorting through some of mine and my siblings’ old toys to send to Goodwill, and all of them were pretty intact except for that one. So she decided to mail it to me instead.”
“Optimus Prime. He was always my favorite.”
“Isn’t he a Transformer or something?”
“Yeah. Loved those things as a kid. She thought I could use it as a desk toy or something.”
“Work or home?”
“Home. In a box, in my closet. There’s no way I’m bringing that thing to work.”
“Oh, come on, it’s cute!”
“Whatever you say.”
“You can always give it to Dwight.”
“And have him tell me how worthless it is because it’s broken and that I don’t play with my dolls correctly? No thanks.”
She looks at it further, “Oh yeah, it’s missing part of the back.”
“There’s a story behind that.”
“Ooh, do tell.”
“Well, I was seven when the Transformers movie was showing. My dad and I went to see it together.”
“Aw, that sounds like fun!”
“No, no it wasn’t,” she notices him half-chuckle, “to my surprise the bad guys actually killed Optimus Prime. Onscreen.”
She’s legitimately surprised, “They didn’t.”
“Yup, they did.”
“Wha… it’s a kids movie!”
“Yeah, yeah it is.”
“Oh, my God,” she laughs, “That’s awful!”
“Yeah, and I wasn’t alone, either,” he recollects, “One of my friends actually cried and walked out the theater.”
“I would’ve. Like, holy shit.”
He snickers at the bluntness of her response. “Anyway, I figured he was gonna come back to life. And when he didn’t, then I started crying.”
“Oh, baby,” she says somewhat sympathetically, holding him tighter.
“Don’t worry, Beesly, I have completely recovered from the trauma.”
“Well, thank God. I was about to recommend that you treat your PTSD.” He’s laughing harder now, much to her relief.
“Anyway, I felt better once Dad reminded me that I had an Optimus who’s alive at home.”
“That is too adorable.”
“Oh, but it gets worse.”
“Let me guess, one of your brothers?”
“Tom or Pete?”
“Pete. He was taller than me and was teasing me by grabbing Optimus and holding it as high as he could, out of my reach.”
“Sounds like Pete.”
“I managed to grab it by its leg and pulled it down towards me, but Pete wouldn’t let up, and… snap.”
He chuckles again, “I wanted to pummel his face in for that, but I was so distraught that I thought my Optimus died, too, so I just sat there and started like bawling.”
“Oh, my God!” she’s floored, still wearing a smile, “You poor thing!”
“To my shock, instead of teasing me about it, Pete came clean to Mom, who gave him quite the talking to.”
“He probably did that because he knows how badly he messed up.”
“Exactly. We hugged and made up, but I was still upset.”
“Don’t worry, this story has a happy ending,” he finishes his tale, “My parents tried, but couldn’t find another one in stores, so they got me a T-Rex Transformer for my birthday instead.”
“Did it fill the void?”
“In a way. He was someone else on the show, but in my house, he was another Optimus Prime.”
“Do you still have the missing leg?”
“Nah, that’s long gone. Everything else is just fine, though.”
“What a relief.” She continues to rub his back, lost in thought.
After some silence, he asks, “Something on your mind?”
“I just miss you.”
He looks down, “I miss you, too.”
“And I miss moments like this, y’know?” she thinks out loud, “where we can just talk about nothing for hours.”
“Me, too,” he says, “It’s what makes this job worth it.” He then looks up at her. “I’m sorry again for not calling you as much.”
“Jim, I completely get it. You’re juggling a lot of clients right now.”
“I appreciate it,” he sighs, “Why do I have to be so charming?”
She snickers, “Oh yeah, you’re so charming.”
“Hey, you’re the one who coined ‘Halpert Charm.’”
“Well, thankfully, its effects have worn on me. You have no power anymore.”
“Are you sure about that?” he slowly lets go so he can use his arms to push himself up, both now at eye level, and kisses her, “How about now?”
She can’t help but blush, responding with “Thank God for that mouthwash.” They both laugh for a good ten seconds at that until their faces fall.
“It’ll all be over soon, Beesly,” he whispers, cupping her cheek with his left hand, “I promise.”
She offers a sad smile, replying, “It’ll be over soon.”
He kisses her again, the both of them trusting in themselves that no matter what, he’ll move out of Stamford within the next month, even if it means moving back to Scranton and a demotion.
He pushes himself to the other side of the bed, sinking in the covers trying to nap everything off. She runs her fingers through his hair to help him fall asleep as she reaches for her copy of Angela’s Ashes and starts reading.
The next morning, Pam was in a bit of a time crunch, so she thought ‘Screw it, I’ll just wrap it at work before 8’ before arriving to work with some wrapping paper, a small card and an Optimus Prime figure she bought the night before on sale.
The card simply says ‘This one’s alive and well! Now you have a spare. Love and miss you’, the i doted with a heart.
In walks Michael, “Morning, Pam and Cheese.”
“Morning, Michael,” she greets quietly. The nickname would have been somewhat pleasant if it wasn’t for its significance.
“Oh, what do we have here?” he asks, peering over the desk.
“A birthday present for my nephew,” she lied, “he’s about to turn eight.”
“Huh, Optimus Prime,” he looks at it, “I remember years ago I watched a Transformers movie because nothing else was on.”
She just nods, “Right.”
“Y’know this guy dies?” he reveals, pointing at a toy.
“What?” she feigns shock.
“Yeah. You never see it coming. First time I ever cried during a movie.”
She’s trying her damndest not to laugh, “Interesting.”
“Morning all,” Dwight enters and sees Pam and Michael conversing around the desk, “Is that a rerelease of the 1984 Optimus Prime action figure?”
“Yeah, it’s for my—” before she could even finish her sentence, Dwight yanks it from over the desk; she doesn’t even bother reaching for it.
He shakes his head with a smirk, “It’s not even the good rerelease. See that?” he points to an important detail on the toy, “They sanded the smoke stacks down to make sure no one pokes their eye out,” he scoffs, “Enjoy your baby toy.” He hands the figure right back to her and walks to his desk.
“God, you’re a nerd,” Michael insults quietly, Dwight out of earshot, as he strides to his office.
It takes Pam every ounce of strength in her to not burst into laughter.