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DISCLAIMER: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Author's Chapter Notes:

Originally posted on 8 November 2021

Inspired by The Explosion (and the aftermath) by SprinklesTheCat.

Enjoy!

“I don’t get you, Pam.”

She doesn’t get her, either.

She was hoping her conversation with Roy would offer her some sort of closure, ending a part of her life that went on for far too long.  And in a way, it did.  Unfortunately, it also left a lot of questions.

Where to go from here… she’d never want to ruin a perfectly good relationship.  She likes Karen.  Okay, ‘like’ is a bit of a stretch, but she respects her, and she’d hate to mess up something she has.  But Jim’s her best friend, at least he was.  It’s like he’s forgotten all the times they spent together, the pranks they’d plan, the laughter they’d share.  He’s changed, into a completely different person, one she doesn’t recognize anymore.  It’s not Karen, it never really was, but the fact he’s not himself.

It feels like he never really came back.

And as time progressed, he just avoided her more and more, like they were simply coworkers.  Hell, maybe even less than coworkers, more like old acquaintances you run into at a party who you don’t even speak to anymore.  And Karen constantly hovering over him like a hawk, God, it gets annoying to watch.  She gets it, he’s moved on, why shove it in her face constantly?  And the way he just shrugs everything off, like he doesn’t care.  He doesn’t care anymore.

Wait… why should she get Jim back?

Maybe she should tell him how she feels, how he made her feel that night.  How he makes her feel now.  How flaunting his oh-so-perfect relationship with oh-so-perfect Karen doesn’t make him a winner, it makes him pathetic.  He drops a bomb on her and runs away?  Before she can even process it?  She decided to discuss things with him the next Friday, to tell him how she needed time and to just wait.  But his impulsive ass can’t bother.  He’d rather sacrifice their friendship than take an iota of responsibility for his actions.

“I’m sure you guys will… find you way back to one another someday.”

What right does he have to say that?  After everything she’s been through, that’s what he says?  After the things he’s done to make her feel small, feel insignificant?  Does his oh-too-cool I-don’t-give-a-shit sarcasm justify what he said at that moment?  At least she tried to apologize, he just treated it like it’s nothing.  Like she’s nothing.  He was a jerk to her.

He… he acted like Roy.

Fuck him.


“Hey, Jim?”

He turns to find Pam, “Yeah?”

smack!

A myriad of gasps as practically everyone is here to bear witness, Phyllis’ “Holy crap!” of genuine shock getting the attention of the few with their heads down.

She knew it wouldn’t solve anything or make her feel better, but damn did it feel good.

Jim, absolutely floored, instinctually puts his hand on his cheek, as Pam, wearing a look that would kill him instantly, turns and walks away.

Once he comes back to reality, he briskly walks towards her, “Hey!” he raised his voice, naturally hurt and confused, “What was that for?”

She turns around and shouts back, “You know damn well what that was for, Halpert!”

“No, I really don’t,” he confronts her, “Please, enlighten me.”

“I apologize to you and all you say back is that Roy and I will ‘find our way back to one another’?  What kind of person says that?”

“Well, that’s what happened, didn’t it?”  She can’t dispute that.  “Oh, and also, I’m not the one who sicked her ex-fiancé on me.”

“That’s not what happened.”

“Really?”

“All I did was tell him the truth.”

“Pft, wow,” he scoffs, “There’s a shock.”

“Don’t you dare talk to me about being honest, Jim!”

“I laid my heart on the line for you, twice!”

“Yeah, and then you ran away like the chicken shit you are!”

“What was I supposed to do, Pam?  Just stay here and watch someone I love marry someone else?”

“A goodbye would have been nice!” she turns to her left, “Oh, put it down, Dwight!”  Dwight lowers his pepper spray.  “You just left, Jim!”

“I left because I wanted to move on, away from… this.”

“Away from me,” she emphasizes, “Y’know, you were my best friend before you went to Stamford.”

He just shrugs, “People change, Pam.  What can I say?”

“What a bullshit excuse.  You went out of your way to hurt me today!”

“Oh, don’t act all innocent, Pam,” he argues, “You break my heart and I’m not supposed to be hurt by that?  That I’ll immediately fall for you again because you left Roy?”  Nope, she’s not about to start sobbing in front of these people.  Not in front of him.  “I’ve moved on.  And you should, too.”

Her eyes are already stinging with tears as she nails the hammer, “Jim, I called off my wedding because of you.  And now we’re not even friends.”

He doesn’t know how to respond to that.

And neither does she.

“Pam—”

“Guess I’ll move on, now.”

She strides to her car before he has a chance to talk.

And he turns around to find the empty parking space where Karen just was.


No one else said a word as they got into their cars, much to Jim’s relief.  He went back upstairs briefly to cool his cheek.  Surprisingly, it was Dwight who offered him his raw meat (that he’ll cook for tonight’s meal) and a ride home.  Looks like they’re not even anymore, not even close.

Jim doesn’t know what hurts more: his reeling head from the argument he had not thirty minutes earlier, his cheek from being slapped into next week, or his ears from the Norwegian black metal blasting from Dwight’s stereo.  Even a guy who could listen to just about anything has no idea what to make of this.  Screw it, sitting trough that noise makes them even.

“We’re here,” Jim’s voice is drowned out by the metal, “We’re here!”

Dwight slams the breaks as Jim rubs his temples.  Dwight only responds, “A little warning next time!”

Jim’s silent as he frustratedly gets out of the car and slams the door.  He notices Dwight shaking his head and saying “Idiot!” as he drives off.  He knows it’s about what happened in the parking lot.

After walking about 50 feet (thanks to the Norwegian black metal), he’s at the front door of his condo when Karen nearly hits him with it as she exits with two heavy suitcases.

It’s here where he realizes he was only delaying the inevitable.  To spare her feelings.  It hurts him more when he realizes he could have stopped this before it even began.

She doesn’t acknowledge him as he notices her mascara has run.  “Karen—”

No.  Jim, I don’t wanna hear it.  No ‘I never meant to hurt you’, no ‘I wanted to make this work’, and especially none of that ‘we can still be friends’ bullshit.  As far as I’m concerned, we’re acquaintances and nothing more.”

“Karen…” he walks towards her, and she still doesn’t acknowledge him, “Karen.”

“What?!”

“I’m sorry, okay, I—!” he tries to figure out how to say it, “I mean it.  I know that’s the last thing you wanna hear, but it’s all I got.”  She just looks at him the same way Pam did after ‘the slap.’  “You deserve better.”

“Yeah, I do,” she slams the trunk, “And you know what the worst part about all of this is?  You were in denial before we even met.”  He’s almost taken aback by how true that statement really is.  “And I think that’s what hurts the most,” her voice cracks just enough to tell.

As if he didn’t feel enough like a terrible person.

A beat before she walks to the driver’s seat, “I checked into a hotel for a few days, dropping by early tomorrow to get my things from my desk.  I already emailed the idiot and told him I’m transferring effective immediately,” she slams the car door and her final words to him before she leaves Scranton forever are, “I hope you figure your shit out, Jim.”

“Drive safe.”  It’s the only thing he could think of that won’t piss her off more than she already is.

Once she’s on the street and drives off, that’s it.  After nearly six months, his relationship with Karen Filipelli has ended.

…What a waste of everybody’s time.


Jim just sulks, feeling sorry for himself (like he always does).  He nearly grabs a beer, but decides against it; he’s at least smart enough to know that alcohol won’t solve anything.

He’s practically a zombie as he performs his routine.  He eats dinner, he showers, he brushes his teeth, he puts on his PJs.  A whole hour early.  As he lies in bed, he puts his hands on his face and yells “FUCK!” just to get it all out.

He just… he can’t take this anymore.  He was just fine in Stamford.  He was making good money, free from any distraction, all the pain and confusion just shed from him.  And then Josh Porter decided to save his own ass at the expense of everyone else’s.  If he were here right now, Jim would punch him in the mouth.  And not even because he did that, no.  It’s because he brought Jim back to Scranton.  Back to Hell.

He’s done.  Done with Scranton, done with Michael, done with Dwight, done with Pam.  He’s done with these people, this town, all of it.  He has to get out of—…why?

Why does he keep pulling this trick?  Is he insane?  Clearly, because doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result counts as insanity, right?  But what else is there?


Pam lost him.  She lost her best friend.  She lost the one person who somehow knew her better than she knew herself.

There’s no way to get him back.

Even if he and Karen were to break up, he’s made it clear that he’s moved on.  That he doesn’t want her anymore.  And why should he?  She lied to him, she manipulated him, she led him on, she broke his heart.  She deserved everything that happened today, her awkward conversation with Roy and Jim’s backhanded comments.  She loved both of them.  Now neither need her anymore.

She wants to call him, make everything right, but she just cries instead.  Through the drive home, through dinner, through her ice cream binge, through her shower, and as she falls asleep.  Crying is all she ever does anymore.


The next day, no one brings up the infamous ‘slap’ around them.  Not Kelly, not Kevin, not Toby, not even Michael.  The only news is about Karen, whose empty desk indicates that she’s “moving on to greener prairies,” as Michael announced.  Everyone finally leaves Jim and Pam alone… when the two are around, that is, because they could tell that it’s the talk of the office amongst themselves.  The only one who doesn’t seem to engage is Dwight, since he cares not of those two’s petty little squabbles.

Meanwhile, the two of them just avoided each other as much as they could.

Neither of them can take this much longer, so they have to put an end to it.  While one of them job hunts, the other makes a stop on their way home…


“Hi.”

“Oh, hi.”

“Can I come in?”

“Um, sure.”

“Thanks.  Lovely place.”

“Thank you.”

“See you got that one kitchen.”

“It’s a good one.”

“Still need two more if you want all three meals.”

“Really, now?”

“It’s simple math, Beesly.”

“Pft, shut up.  How’s your cheek?”

“Fully healed.  But you certainly did a number on it.”

“I’m sure.”

“…”

“…Um, please, have a seat.”

“Oh, thank you.”

“…”

“So, are you and Karen still…?”

“Nope.  In fact, she never wants to see me again.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“It’s for the best, she… she deserves better.”

“…”

“…”

“I just wanted—”
“Look Pam, I— oh, ladies first.”

“Thank you.  Jim, I… I can’t apologize enough for the slap.  And, well, everything else.  It’s just… I was lonely, Jim.  Getting back with Roy was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done, but I was just filling a void.”

“What void?”

“…I finally thought I had a chance to make it up to you.  To make up for the night that I pushed you away.  I miss you, Jim.  I miss having fun with you.  And at the end of the day, I… I just don’t want things to be weird between us anymore.  It sucks.”

“Me neither.”

“And Karen, she never did a thing wrong, but—”

“I wouldn’t go tha—”

“Jim, please, I…”

“I’m sorry, keep going.”

“But every time I saw you two together I just got more and more upset with myself.  I was confused and I didn’t know what to make of everything, but it’s like I said, you left.  After you dropped this bomb on me.  I didn’t have time to process everything.  And I forgive you, Jim, I really do, but it still stings.  Even now.  I lost my best friend.  And what you said yesterday, it was the straw.  I’ve never felt more angry and upset.  And y’know, out of all people, Roy told me not to give up on you.”

“Wait, really?”

“Yeah, he said that I might as well since I broke our wedding because of you.  But it wasn’t you.  Not really.”

“What was it?”

“A lot of reasons, reasons I don’t wanna go into right now.  But… none of those reasons mattered until I met you.”

“…”

“Your turn.”

“…I miss you, too, Pam.  A lot.  You’ll always mean a lot to me, and I’m so sorry for everything I’ve done to you.  But even though… I came back to Scranton, I just, I feel like I’ve never really… come back.”

“I wish you would.”

“I want to, but Pam… I was hurt, too.  I was confused.  I desperately wanted to move on.  I tried, so damn hard.  Karen tried, too.  Harder than me, it seems.  And when I saw you get back with Roy, I was only more hurt and confused.  And, quite frankly, pissed.  I felt like I was losing my best friend, too.”

“Yeah.”

“But that still doesn’t excuse everything I did.  I left you without so much as a goodbye.  I ghosted you.  I flaunted my new, ‘better’ relationship in front of you, and led a woman on.  And I made you cry.  I hurt you far worst than you hurt me.  Say whatever you want about the slap, it was well deserved.  As well as being humiliated in front of all of our coworkers.”

“Jim, you didn’t deserve—”

“And the worst part is?  When I told you I was seeing someone, after my first day back, I… I wasn’t.  Karen and I were interested in each other, certainly, but we never actually started dating until, well, the night after our first date.  I could’ve stopped this whole mess before it even began.”

“…”

“Pam, can you ever forgive me?”

“Of course, I can.  I just hope you can forgive me.”

“Already have.”

“I… could’ve stopped this whole mess, too.”

“How?”

“If I was only honest with you that night, I…”

“Honest?”

“…I’m in love with you.  A-and I understand completely if you don’t feel the same way anymore, or you wanna—”

“I’m still in love with you, Pam.  I never stopped.”

“Really?”

“You have no idea Beesly.”

“I certainly have an idea—”

“Hey… it’s okay.”

“I-I was afraid you— hated me.”

“Never.  Not even if I tried.  Come here…”

“…I-I need to stop crying.”

“This is your party, Beesly.  You’ll cry if you want to.”

“Dork.  But really, I shouldn’t be crying.  I feel insanely better, like a weight’s been lifted.”

“Same here.  It’s like I can finally breathe.”

“Right?”

“…I still feel bad about not going.”

“Where?”

“To your art show.”

“Jim, I’m not even mad about that.”

“Still, I wanted to see them.  Do you still have them?”

“All except for one.  Michael bought it.”

“What?”

“You know the watercolor of the business park next to his office door?”

“Wait, that was you?”

“Yeah.”

“Beesly!  I’m so proud of you.”

“Thank you.  It’s my personal favorite.”

“And Michael bought it?”

“Yeah, I wanted to tell him didn’t have to, but I figured I could use the money.”

“Clever.”

“He was proud of me.  It made my day.”

“I’m glad he was there for you.”

“Me, too.  I wanna show you all of them, but first I would like for us to talk through some more… stuff.”

“Right.”

“If you don’t mind.”

“Of course not, we need to.  And Pam?”

“Yeah?”

“I royally fucked up, and I never gave you the time you need, so I’m willing to wait until you’re ready.”

“Actually, I may need a day or two, just to… take everything in.”

“Sure.”

“Thank you for understanding.”

“Of course.  Hey, I waited this long, what’s a couple days?”

“Well, I’d love to have a nice dinner with you at Cugino’s this Saturday, if you’re so inclined.”

“Did you just ask me out?”

“Yes.”

“Alright.  Then it’s a date.”


After Pam runs through the coals and tells her coworkers how she really feels, she sprints to the lake to cool her injuries.  Here comes Jim, who snakes his arms around her waist, then rests his head on top of hers.  “How are your feet?”

“Medium rare, thanks.”  They both can’t help but laugh.

“That was quite the performance there, Beesly.”

“I meant what I said,” she affirms, “I’m not taking it back.”

He kisses the top of her head, demonstrating how proud of her he is.  “You know they’re gonna make fun of you.”

“I’m expecting that,” she says, “And I don’t care.  It needed to be said,” she wants him to know something, “Hey, if you wanna go for the job—”

“No way, my place is right here.  With you.”

“Thank God.  I’m not ready for long-distance.”

“Me, neither.”  She turns around, happily moving to face him, and they kiss.  Again.  “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Jim is truly thankful he got smacked in the face.

Chapter End Notes:

I will say, it was satisfying for me to write that slap after what he said.  No wonder people hate Jim now.



3vasectomies is the author of 16 other stories.

This story is part of the series, Possible Scenarios. The previous story in the series is Baby Please Come Home. The next story in the series is Advertising Director Jim Halpert.

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