It's him!! Pam's mind screamed as she ran through her bedroom, searching for her black converse sneakers.
"Coming!" she screamed toward the door. She looked under the bed, and spied them beside a rolled up piece of canvas. Snatching them up, she hopped towared the front door, pulling them on (thank goodness they were the no-lace kind). Just before she opened the door, she did a quick assessment of herself in the mirror by it. She was dressed in dark blue jeans and a burgundy v-neck sweater, that accentuated her curves. Make-up wise, she settled on a swipe of pinkish-red lip-gloss, and a touch of mascara. And as for her hair, she had taken the time to deep condition it in the quick shower she had when she got home from grocery shopping. She'd blown it out, and barrel curled it, then brushed the curls into soft waves. Pam knew it was a casual dinner date, but hell, it didn't mean she had to look like she just came from work.
She peeped through the doorhole, and saw him waiting patiently on the other side. She took a deep breath, and opened it.
"Jim," she said smiling, "you're here."
"Yeah," Jim mumbled, looking down at his feet and grinning at the floor. "You look nice."
He smiled again. She looked nice. Not overly fancy or anything like that. She just didn't look like she normally did, not that what she normally wore was unattractive. It was just more plain.
"Ready?" he asked, finally looking up at her.
"I just need to get my purse and coat," she replied. Jim....was blushing. She grinned inwardly, relishing the thought of making Jim Halpert blush. She turned back into the apartment and grabbed her coat and bag from the living room.
Stopping at the mirror again, Pam gave herself one last check.
It's now, or never, she thought.
"I'm ready," she said as she locked the door behind her. "Let's go."
He smiled. "Great. Come on."
Jim didn't really know what else to say, so he lead her over the the car, opened the door for her and shut it when she'd gotten all the way in.
"So," he said awkwardly, once he started the car up and had gotten them on their way. It felt weird sitting the quiet. He needed something to distract him from the awkwardness of it all.
"So," Pam said back, sounding as awkward as he did. It was silent in the car, maddeningly so.
"I've started baking," she said, almost screaming it. Her voice was so loud and sudden, she startled herself. "I wanted to bake a key lime pie tomorrow, that's why I went grocery shopping before you got here, but this really crazy old lady took the last one, and she shouted at me, 'You snooze, you lose, kid', and it was so insane, it was hysterical-"
Pam paused for a breath, and looked over at Jim.
"I-just thought it was funny," she said, smiling wanly.
Jim looked over at her for a split second and then focused his attention back onto the road.
"That's...just a little bit creepy." Jim replied awkwardly. Noticing that his phone was blinking, he picked it up. He had left it in the car when he'd gotten out to get Pam. "Just a minute," he said to Pam, and checked the voice mail. It was Karen.
"That was Karen," Jim said. "I think she thinks somethings going on." He didn't know why he was telling her this, but it slipped out before he could stop it.
Pam's grip on her purse tightened. Karen. Called.
It was then she realized that either way, she was going to lose, and lose big tonight. She could say, We're just two friends hanging out, going out to dinner...what's so wrong about that? But, then he would think that her feelings for him were gone. Or, she could tell him the truth, Hey, I know you have a girlfriend now, but I'm still in love with you. And then, surely, he'd throw her out of the car.
She caught herself holding her breath, and let it out; it sounded like a muffled sob. Why did this have to be so hard? Waves of sadness and anger washed over her, and she wished that she had told him she was sick, and had stayed home. She wanted to burst into tears, hit things, but right now she was stuck in Jim's car, and he was very nervous.
She turned to him. "Well, you should just call her back," she replied, her voice chilled. "Tell her what's going on."
Jim shook his head. "Not right now. I'll call her later."
Calling Karen right now would be about the worst choice that he could make. He could not call her when he was going to dinner with another girl, whether or not that girl was just his friend.
"I already told her nothing's going on..." he said, letting his voice trail off. He shrugged, not at all sure where he was going with this.
"Hey," he said, noticing that she looked a little sick. "Are you okay? What's wrong?"
You'll never forgive yourself, if you don't pull it together.
Pam heard that sentence over and over in her head. And it was true. If she lost it, right here, let her frustrations loose, all the progress that could have been made tonight, would be lost.
You're bigger than this, Beesly. Suck it up, and be an adult.
She turned to Jim. "I'm fine," she reassured him, losing her cold tone. "Really, I am. Just really hungry."
And as she turned to look out the window, she realized that they were just pulling into Cugino's.
"You sure?" Jim asked as he pulled in and put the car in park. She was saying that she was okay, but there was something about the way that she said it. Jim just couldn't be convinced so easily.
She didn't say anything.
Getting out of the car, he shut his door and hurried over to open hers. Once she'd gotten out, he shut the door behind her and locked the car.
"Are you sure that you're okay?" he asked again. He was almost sure that he was bothering her now, but he was somewhat concerned. He didn't want for her to have to pretend to be all right when it was obvious that she was not.
Pam Beesly was at her wit's end.
"To be honest with you, Halpert," she began, "I haven't been okay since you left. But right now, I'm so hungry, I could collapse, so can we get in and order?"
It came out in a rush, and she went to clasp her hands over her mouth, but, she ran her hands through her hair instead. She couldn't keep still, so she began to walk toward the door.
Her insides were shaking, but at least she'd gotten one thing off her chest.
Pam would go down, but she wouldn't go down without a fight.
Jim nodded quickly. "Yeah, I mean- go."
The reason for his not being able to say that much had been because he was mostly in shock. Just the way she had spoken had gotten to him. Even more so than what she had said. Then again, Jim couldn't really say that he was absolutely positive that he knew what she meant. He didn't want to assume anything, so he figured that it would be best just to push the entire thing to the back of his mind. This was difficult, considering that if he let it, it would eat away at him. After all, there were a million different things that she could mean bye it.
He gestured in the direction of the door and followed her in.
As they followed the waiter to their table, Pam couldn't keep the grin off her face. What a rush! And the look on his face....priceless. From that moment on, she decided, no more second guessing herself, no more dishonesty. He deserved it, and so did she. Not telling him how she felt is what got her here in the first place. Tonight, there would be no regrets.
"I already know what I want," she said to the waiter as they sat. "The chicken parm, please."
She leaned over and touched Jim's arm. "Are you okay?" she asked.
She gave his arm a sincere squeeze before she pulled away.
You want to talk, Jim Halpert? I'll tell you everything.
He gave the waiter his order, the same thing as her, although suddenly he didn't feel all that hungry. He just felt somewhat numb.
Jim was still somewhat in shock, so he jumped just a little when she touched him. He smiled at her.
"I'm fine," he said, nodding. He was okay, wasn't he? Yes. After all, what did he have to complain about? And tonight they could fix this. It was already such a huge mess, but they were getting another shot at it. Jim was determined not to screw it up this time.
"So," Pam began, "let's start the pre-dinner conversation, shall we?"
She was determined to find out what was going on in his life. Since he'd returned, they had hardly talked about Stamford and his adjusting to life back in Scranton.
"How are you?" she asked. "Really. How was Stamford? How is it being back in the 'Electric City'?" That was said with a chuckle.
He was glad they were getting off to a good start.
"It's good now. Stamford was...weird at first, but I-" he paused, trying to find the right words. "-I got used to it. It got better. And it's good to be back. I thought I'd never see the rest of you again." he finished.
"Weird, huh?" she asked. "Do you mean, Dwight weird? Or the regular kind?"
She missed this. The banter, the back-and-forth of words and smiles that made them friends.
"How was -," she paused, searching for the name of Jim's boss in Stamford. "Josh? Is that what his name was? How does he compare to our own Michael Scott?"
He shrugged. "It was just different." And with a small laugh he said, "I don't think anyone's like Michael. He went to work for Staples."
Jim smiled at her. "What's up with you?" he asked. She said she hadn't been okay, but she seemed like she was doing better now.
Where to begin?
"Um, well, in a couple of weeks, I'm gonna start art classes," she replied. "You know, at the community college?"
She smiled at the thought. "And, I've taken up baking. I'm sure it'll do nothing for my figure since I eat everything I make. But, it's really relaxing."
She stopped for a minute. "I....really missed you. You know how many times I looked over at your old desk to see Ryan glowering there and looking miserable? Look," she watched as the waiter brought their food, "I need to ask you -" She trailed off as the plates were set in front of them.
She wasn't sure how to ask him. Maybe, she needed him to talk about it first.
She began to eat.
"You're finally taking classes? That's great." he smiled. "And baking? I'll eat it if you're that worried about it."
He paused. He was about to say, "I missed you too," and add a "Ryan always looks like that." but he stopped himself. Of course the waiter had to come now. Now of all times. This had to the be the worst timing.
"Wait-" he said, gently pushing her hand and fork away from her plate "Ask me what?"
Pam placed her fork on the table and looked at everything but Jim.
She couldn't wait for him to ask her, because somehow, she knew he wouldn't. They'd dance around their food and their words, and she'd end up at home tonight, regretting all the things that weren't said.
"You haven't asked me why I called off the wedding", she said finally. "I know you must be thinking about it....I mean, maybe you aren't, but, do you want to know?"
Jim looked down at the table and then back up at her.
"I didn't know if you wanted to tell me. It's not really any of my business."
He didn't want to ask Pam about it. If she wanted to tell him he would listen, but asking her about her wedding might have been weird. He did want to know.
The faster she said it, the easier it'd be.
"I called it off because - because of you." she said, finally.
She remembered how excited she was to come in the Monday after Casino Night, how happy she was that she could tell Jim how much he meant to her, and how she realized that he was really the one that she wanted.
"I was going to tell you the Monday after the Casino Night weekend. But you had already left for Stamford. Dwight broke the news to me."
"Oh." He couldn't really think of anything else to say to her. So, she'd called off her wedding because of him. Not because of Roy or of anything else. It was his fault. And then he'd just left like nothing.
"I-" he paused. "I didn't know. And I'm sorry. I am. I just-" this was harder than he thought it would be. "I can't." this speech was sounding oh so recycled and he hated it. "Karen." he mumbled.
She promised herself that she wouldn't cry, but, she lied. The tears were welling before she could stop herself.
"I know you can't, Jim," she said. She had started this, and she would end it.
"I was confused, and upset when you left....I thought you were being selfish because you didn't get the answer you wanted, and best friends shouldn't run out on each other. But, after a while, I was happy, because, well....I was on my own for the first time. And I was learning to like, even love myself. I realized that I was so much more without Roy. And I know I didn't call, but, but, you didn't either. And, when I heard that you were coming back, I thought-"
She ran out of breath, but the tears, the tears had disappeared.
"I love you, Jim. I know that I missed out, I missed the boat, and you've got someone better than me now, and I know it's no use, but I do. I'll always love you. And even if we aren't friends or anything like that anymore, even if we can't get back to the way we used to be, I'll never forget the way-"
She meant to say, "I'll never forget the way we were", but what came out was:
"I'll never forget the way you make me feel."
She frantically put down a 20 for her food and gathered her coat and purse. She never meant to take it this far.
"I-I should go, I need air," she stammered as she ran for the door.