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.
Jim sat there in silence for a few seconds. He didn't even know what to say to that. It was almost too much. Too much at one time. He could barely even process everything that she had said.
He couldn't just sit here. People were starting to stare and Pam had just rushed out. Jim could hear the whispers getting louder. They had made sort of a scene. He dug in his pocket for his money, left it on the table and ran out after her.
"Pam!" he spotted her outside, standing at the curb. "Pam, I'm sorry. I know I didn't call you. I should have. But I-" he paused, she wasn't looking at him or showing him that she was paying him any attention, but he continued talking anyway. "I convinced myself that it wasn't going to work and that you didn't want it. But why now, Pam?" he stopped for a second. "I missed you too. I want to be friends again. I just-I didn't know. Pam, I'm not comparing you to Karen. The two of you are different. I just-we were both too late."
He bit his lip nervously. He'd been standing behind her the entire time, now he made his way over so that he was now beside her. "I'm sorry." he said again, but this time he put an arm around her shoulders comfortingly and hoped that he wasn't about to make her even more upset.
She didn't mean to do it.
He had put his arm around her to comfort her, he was talking, and it was a knee jerk reaction. She whirled around in his arms and kissed him. Kissed him like he kissed her on Casino Night, unrelenting and intense.
"I know I shouldn't do this, but tell me that you don't feel anything for me, and I'll let it go," she whispered against his lips. "We can be friends, and it'll be okay again."
For a moment he couldn't move. Honestly, he wasn't sure that he wanted to and when she pulled away, he considered pulling her back in. Of course Karen came to mind at this moment and he decided against it.
"I-" Jim began. This really wasn't fair. He couldn't do that. He couldn't say that he didn't feel anything at all, because he did.
"I can't tell you that. But I can't do this either."