A/N: My submission for the Taking a Chance Season 2 fanfic-a-thon taking place on alovesosexy. Thanks to JamJunkie14 and NinJAM for the beta services. I'm thinking this one will have two, or maybe three chapters in total.
Oh! And I'm up for sale in the Support Stacie Author Auction this weekend, along with JamJunkie14 and Liv. You can find the information on my profile page. Please stop by and say hi!
Disclaimer: I do not own anything associated with this show or these characters. Actually, I don't own much of anything at all.
Going for the Gold
There are certain sounds that I love. Um, birds chirping on a clear Spring morning, the rasp of charcoal on good drawing paper, the hiss of fajitas in a cast iron skillet, and the thump of Jim Halpert's head hitting the desk. That last one might seem a little strange, but it's true. I love that sound because it means that something fun is about to happen.
Each time Jim dies of boredom, I know that it's my job to revive him. I take my job very seriously, because saving Jim Halpert's life is very important to me. You see, if I don't save Jim's life, I would have very little fun in my own.
It's not that my relationship with Roy is bad, or that he mistreats me or anything like that. It's just not very much fun. We don't like the same things, Roy and me. He likes to watch sports, I love the Antiques Roadshow. He likes to ride jet skis; I get bored waiting for my turn on the machine that was supposed to be mine. The fact of the matter is, I know that Roy and I don't have very much in common anymore. I mean, we have a history. A long history. A history that can't be erased. Not that I want it erased, I'm just saying that history is important. Nothing can change it. The only problem is, history isn't very much fun.
Come on, admit it, when your history teacher in school got bogged down in the Civil War, you know that you wanted to die of boredom. You wanted to let your head hit the desk, if for no other reason than to experience that momentary jolt.
When Jim dies of boredom, a part of me feels a different kind of jolt. A jolt that I haven't felt with Roy for a very long time. I'm okay with it, though. It's my secret, and no one ever needs to know about it.
No one ever needs to know that I itch to run my fingers through the back of Jim's hair. Sometimes I feel an impulse, an almost uncontrollable impulse to leap from my chair, hurry to his desk and curl my fingers into his shoulders; just to see if his skin is stretched across them as taut as his shirt is. No one would ever guess that sometimes, when he doesn't lift his head up for a minute or two, I'm tempted, oh-so tempted, to press my mouth to his to resuscitate him.
Of course, I control that impulse very well. That's why no one knows. Especially not Jim. I never want him to know. If he knew, that might make him feel uncomfortable, and if he feels uncomfortable he might stop coming to my desk. And I never want Jim to stop coming to my desk.
I can't help but smile as he pushes his chair back and wanders over to my desk. It's time for me to do my job. I love my job. Moments later, he's smiling, revitalized by the simple act of tossing balls of paper and paper clips into Dwight's coffee mug. Have I mentioned that I'm damn good at my job? Not my job, job. This job. My real job is so boring that I can almost feel my brain beginning to atrophy. No, I love this job. I love being Jim's partner in crime.
I love the way his green eyes light when he shoots and scores. I love the way he smiles at me as if I am brilliant. I will admit to having moments of brilliance, but I have to attribute them to having Jim as my inspiration. For example, when he found Dwight's wallet in the parking lot this morning and asked my advice on how best to use it, I could think of nothing better than to do nothing at all. And Jim's smile as we listened to Dwight spend his entire morning navigating automated systems to cancel every card in his wallet? That smile was brilliant.
A warm flush heated my skin as I saw Jim's natural enthusiasm kick in. Now there was a spring in his step as he wandered away from the reception desk and back to his mind numbing expense report. There was a spark of light in his eyes as he made his way back to accounting. Moments later, I heard a small cheer rise up from the accounting department, and swiveled in my chair.
I tried to ignore the slight pang of jealousy that I felt when I saw Jim heading for the annex. But I couldn't help but wonder where he was going. Hadn't I been enough fun? I have two more boxes of paperclips here. If he wants to kick it up a notch, I also have some binder clips. That mysterious thumping noise that echoed through the office nearly every afternoon began, and I snatched back the box of paper clips I had placed on the counter for Jim's amusement. With each dull thunk, I added a paper clip to one of the never ending chains I tend to make. I know, I really should learn how to knit or something.
A few minutes later, Jim reappeared. His face alert, his eyes bright, he approached Stanley and then Phyllis, speaking to them in low tones. There's nothing better than watching Jim when he feels inspired. And I watched. I watched as he returned to his desk, sharing a smile with Oscar and Kevin as he sat down. I watched as he held up a hand to high five Toby when he passed by on his way to the break room. I watched as Jim fidgeted, tapping his pen on his blotter and then rocking back in his chair.
The flush came back with a vengeance as he turned to look at me, and then launched himself from his chair.
"Hey," he said softly as he leaned over the counter.
"Hi," I answered, added another paper clip to the chain.
"Sure, why not." I connected the two ends of the chain. Spying the discarded lid from my morning yogurt on the desk, I impulsively added it one of the clips and held it up for Jim to see. "From the Mr. T Collection."
Staring up at my creation, I realized that it looked a little more like an Olympic medal than a hefty piece of bling. "Here," I said as she stood up and draped it over Jim's head. "You win. I award you first place in the Dwight Debris."
"Wow, Pam. I don't even know what to say," Jim said as he held the yogurt lid away from his shirt. "Did you lick this clean yourself?" he asked with a smirk.
"I did." I had to fight to keep a straight face. Of course, that's a battle I'm usually engaged in when Jim is around, so I've had lots of practice.
"I'll cherish it even more," he said solemnly. He gazed down at my makeshift medal for a moment, and when he looked up again, his smile was so, uh, perfect. Just perfect. "Hey, I have an idea," he said as he leaned over the counter. "Can you make a few more of these? I mean, you don't have to lick them yourself. I like the idea of mine being special," he teased.
"Um, yeah, why?"
"I have an idea, and I'll need your help."
And just like that, the Dunder Mifflin Olympics were born. Jim was in his element; cheering his co-workers on, shouting out tips and encouragement, playing along with every name I invented. It was perfect. That is, until Angela explained the rules of Pam Pong to me.
I wanted to slap her. I wanted to slap her so hard. I hated Angela for seeing what no one was supposed to see. I saw her staring at us and making a mark on her stupid slip of paper. I hope she got a perfect score. Tens across the board, even from the Romanian judge. Hell, I'd drape the stupid gold yogurt lid around her neck myself if that would keep her mouth shut.
Didn't she know that Jim's visits were the highlight of my day? Why would she do that? Was she tracking Jim just to get him in trouble? I could see her doing that, just out of spite. God forbid anyone dared to try to have fun in this place. Fun. A little fun never hurt anyone. It made people happy, couldn't she see that? Look at Kevin's smile. Look at the steely determination on Oscar and Toby's faces as they filled their coffee mugs to the brim. Even Stanley had joined in, providing the color commentary to go along with each event as Phyllis giggled softly beside him.
And Jim. My God, look at Jim. Has he ever looked more… sexy? His smile, the way his eyes crinkled at the corners, the energy; that boundless energy, finally channeled now into something that he could get excited about. It hummed around him like a force field, but instead of repelling, it made everyone want to get closer. I wanted to get much closer. His enthusiasm was infectious. Even Ryan wasn't cool enough to resist the pull of him. This was Jim. This was all Jim. Focused on making this the best Olympics ever, determined to see that everyone came out a winner, smiling, relaxed, happy Jim, who only wanted a little something fun to break up the monotony of our daily lives.
I know that there has to be something wrong with me. Most people don't go to work to have some fun. But I do. I need it. I need Jim.
When Michael and Dwight returned and the others began to drift back to their desks, I couldn't pry my eyes away from Jim. Disappointment, disillusionment and dejection were written all over his face. His loss was palpable. It was all I could do to keep from throwing my arms around him and holding him tightly. I wanted to run my fingers through that thick hair and console him. I wanted to tell him that it would be okay, there'd be more fun to be had on another day. I wanted to beg him not to let them ruin this for him, for us.
Instead, I took my seat behind the safety of the reception desk, and watched as Jim handed the stop watch back to Dwight. He bent over his expense report, and I ached to stroke those fine hairs at the nape of his neck. As he check and re-checked his numbers, punching them forcefully into his calculator, I yearned for one more joyous smile. When he signed his name to the bottom line and then set his pen down with a resigned sigh, I knew like I had never known before that my own happiness was not entangled in my fiancé's happiness, but rather, in my best friend's lopsided smile.
That realization should have been breathtaking, right? I should have been a little stunned by it, or maybe frightened, shouldn't I? But I wasn't, I'm not. It's like I knew all along. I knew all along, but I just didn't want to admit it. And why wouldn't I want to admit something that at this very moment seemed to fundamentally true and… right? No, I wasn't scared, or freaked out, or any of the ten thousand other things I should have been. I was sure. More sure than I had ever been about anything in my entire life.
Jim bypassed his desk on the way back from accounting and headed for the break room, but I did not follow him as usual. Instead, I wound my way through the office to the warehouse door. When I reached the warehouse floor, I found Roy lounging with Darryl in the tiny glassed in office.
"Hey, can I talk to you?" I asked, my eyes fixed on the man they should have been fixed on all along.
"Now?" Roy asked with a groan. "Darryl was going to show me a new video he found."
"It won't take long."
Rolling his eyes, Roy pushed to his feet and followed me to the foot of the stairs. When he stopped, giving me that annoyingly impatient look of exaggerated patience, I snapped. "Roy, what are we doing together?"
"We have nothing n common. You hate everything I like. We never have any fun. Why are we still together?"
"Pam, we're engaged," he said with a puzzled frown.
You see, this was the trouble with me and Roy. That sentence alone said it all. Yes, we were engaged, but neither of us really knew why. I bet if I asked him, he wouldn't be able to tell me. But I don't want to ask him. I don't want to know what reasons he could scrounge up. I don't really want to know if there is one good reason mixed in there somewhere. My mind is made up. I want out.
"I know we're engaged, Roy, but I don't think we should be anymore," I said quietly.
"What? Pammy, why? Why are you saying this?"
"Do you have fun with me, Roy? Can you tell me the last thing we did together that was fun for both of us?" When he opened his mouth to retort, I held up my hand to stop him. "And I don't mean stuff in bed," I whispered harshly.
Roy clamped his mouth shut once again, and I swear I could see the wheels turning in his head as he searched his memory.
"I don't want to spend the rest of my life not having any fun," I said as I took his hand in mine. "Do you?"
"No," he whispered, shocking himself more than me. Poor Roy, he always was a step behind anytime he stepped off of the football field.
"I didn't think so."
"But Pam, I love you," he said, snapping to attention.
I could feel the exhaustion seeping from my lungs as I exhaled. "Oh, Roy, I love you to. I just think that we've both changed a lot. We've grown up. Maybe that's a good thing or maybe that's bad, but we're not the same people we were in high school, are we?"
"No. I mean, yes. Yes, we are," he answered, pulling his hand from mine.
This was the thing about Roy. He loved to argue. Arguing is fun for him. Sometimes I think he should have tried out for the debate team rather than the football team. He never would have made it, of course. He had a tendency to forget what side he was arguing.
"I'm not," I told him, praying that I was telling the truth. I slipped Roy's ring from my finger and pressed it into his hand. When his fingers closed over it automatically, I covered his hand with mine. "I'm not the same girl, Roy."
With that, I turned and walked slowly up the stairs, my heart pounding as I felt his eyes boring into the back of me.
"Pam, wait," Roy called as he rushed the stairs.
When I turned, I could see the anger in his eyes. He glanced nervously over his shoulder, and I knew immediately what was bothering him. You don't spend the better part of a decade with one guy and not know what really makes him tick.
"You can tell them you dumped me, I don't care. Tell them that I'm no fun, and you couldn't see spending the rest of your life with such a stick in the mud. We'll sort the rest out when we get home."
Before he could answer, I pushed through the door and made sure that it closed securely behind me. That's where Jim found me, his eyes bright again, his smile wide and delighted.
"There you are," he said, his voice husky with relief.
"Here I am." I hoped that he mistook the breathiness in my voice as exertion, after all, I had just climbed the stairs from the warehouse.
"I think I've figured out a way to hold the closing ceremonies," he said as he gave my arm a gentle tug. "Your doves are going to soar, Beesly."
And soar they did, taking wing behind a misty-eyed Michael, an oddly moved Dwight, and one heart-stoppingly satisfied Jim Halpert. As the final notes of the Star Spangled Banner faded away, I knew in my heart that I had done the right thing. I couldn't remember the last time I had so much fun.
It wasn't until I made it back to my desk that the crushing reality of what I had done began to settle in. I would have to find a place to live. I would have to figure out what my life would be without Roy Anderson as my future. A flash caught my eye, and I looked up to see Jim draping his bronze medal over the edge of his computer with the rest of his collection. I blinked, trying to puzzle out which one of the gold foil lids I had licked that morning, and wondering if Jim knew.
I tried to tell myself that it didn't matter if he did know which one it was, as long as it didn't end up in the trash can like Ryan's. I don't think I could take that.
I busied myself with retrieving the messages left on the voice mail and distributing them to the appropriate people. When I gave Jim a pink message slip, he smiled up at me and asked, "No origami?"
"Not this time."
"That's a little disappointing, Pam," he teased.
"Well, I'm not really all that much fun," I told him and then escaped to my desk once more.
I straightened up my desk as the last hour of the day ticked slowly by. Finally, the others stood and began to gather their belongings. Dreading the talk that I knew was going to come, I shrugged into my coat and pulled my purse from the bottom drawer of my desk. I called my goodnights as the others stood waiting for the elevator and made my way down the stairs. Walking out into the parking lot, I looked for Roy's truck, but found that it wasn't in the usual spot.
"No way." My jaw dropped as I walked slowly toward the empty space. "Come on, seriously?" I asked aloud.
"Seriously what?" Jim asked.
I jumped, pressing my hand to my heart as I turned around. "I guess Roy left."
"Without you?" he asked dumbly. He shook his head and answered his own question. "Obviously, huh?"
"Well, um, I can give you a lift home," he offered as he gestured to his car.
"Yeah, okay, thanks." Still shaking my head in disbelief, I slid into the passenger seat as Jim held the door open for me. "Thanks."
"No problem," he said as he let the door swing shut.
Jim pressed his lips together as he cranked the ignition, and I knew that he was dying to ask. He wanted to ask, but he wouldn't, I know. Roy, and my relationship with Roy was the one topic we rarely discussed. Until this moment, I never really thought about it, but it was true. I guess I always just kind of sensed that Jim didn't get it. I don't blame him. Over the past few years, I've had a hard time understanding it myself.
I hoped he didn't ask. I prayed he wouldn't ask. And as I prayed, a carefully covered my left hand with my right, hoping he wouldn't notice that my ring was gone. That was one thing that would surely invite questions, questions I wasn't fully prepared to answer. Yet.
Instead, I smiled as he turned out of the parking lot and said, "Thanks for the ride home, Jim."
He returned the smile and I felt that familiar warm rush whooshing through my veins. I closed my eyes, concentrating on the soft rasp in his deep voice as he said, "Anytime, Pam."