Series: "Past Perfect"
Fandom: The Office
Summary: It’s official. Jim and Pam are dating. Well, they’re going out on a date, anyway. (Jim/Pam)
Spoilers: Through "The Job"
Rating: R (for language only)
Author's Note: Chapter 1 is here. Thanks to austin360 for the beta and the encouragement.
(Nothing But) Flowers
Jim had the whole drive back from New York to plan The Perfect Date with Pam. He knows exactly what restaurant he’ll take her to (Michaelangelo’s), what kind of flowers he’ll get her (gerbera daisies), what music they’ll listen to in the car (Rogue Wave), and what he’s going to wear (his new blue striped button-down). Yes, he is a total girl.
And he still can’t quite believe she said yes. She really, actually, did. And now it’s official. He and Pam are dating. Well, they’re going out on a date, anyway. He even made sure to explicitly use the word date so there would be no misunderstanding his intentions.
He also makes a point to pull Ken aside and beg him not to send a camera crew along with them. Ken agrees, but only in exchange for Jim’s promise to do a lengthy and candid interview in the morning.
IMing Pam makes the last hour in the office pass a little more quickly, but he gets increasingly antsy as 5:00 approaches. As soon as he hears Pam start gathering up her things he does the same so he’ll be able to walk her out.
If he can get her alone on the elevator he is definitely going to kiss her. He might even do it again in the parking lot.
And then at exactly 4:58 his phone rings. Of course. He considers letting it go to voicemail, but he recognizes the number and it’s Diane at Lackawanna College, which is one of his biggest clients. She just placed a huge order with him and if there’s something wrong he really needs to get it fixed in the system.
He sighs and reaches for the phone. “Jim Halpert.”
As he feared, Diane wants to make some last-minute changes. A lot of last-minute changes. He probably ought to be happy because she’s adding 100 more cases, which puts him easily in sight of his sales target for the month, but seriously, could she not have called fifteen minutes ago? He gives Pam an apologetic look as he restarts his computer and sits back down.
She smiles reassuringly at him and mouths, “See you at seven.”
And now he wants to kiss her more than ever. He’s on the verge of putting Diane on hold so he can follow Pam to the elevator when he hears Dwight say, “Pam, are you leaving? I’ll walk you out.”
“Um, yeah, okay,” Pam says.
Well, that’s weird, Jim thinks, watching suspiciously as Dwight holds the door open for Pam. Also, it totally messes up his plan to kiss her on the elevator. Damn Dwight. When they’re gone Jim reaches over and angrily thumps Dwight’s stupid bobblehead in the face before he realizes that Randall the cameraman is filming him.
It’s 5:20 by the time Jim finally gets the order changed and gets off the phone with Diane. The camera crew’s packed up and gone home and pretty much everyone else has cleared out of the office except Michael. Jim quickly gathers up his things to make his escape.
Only then does it occur to him that Pam’s got a new apartment and he has no idea where it is.
He digs around his desk until he comes up with a copy of the branch contact list, but of course it’s totally out of date and still lists Pam’s old place that she shared with Roy. He could call her cell, but now he feels like an idiot because he didn’t ask her for her address sooner.
Instead, he heads into the back, fully intending to snoop through Toby’s files. Only it turns out Toby is still sitting at his desk, which kind of throws a wrench into that plan.
“Hey, Jim,” he says.
Jim shoves his hands in his pockets and stares uncertainly at Toby.
“You need something?” Toby asks.
“Um. Yeah, actually. I was wondering if I could have Pam’s address. Her new address.”
Toby gives him a kind of funny look. “I’m really not supposed to give out personal information. You know that.”
“I know, yeah. But I’m not just anyone, right? I mean, Pam and I are friends. She totally wouldn’t mind.”
“Still.” Toby’s giving him that wary look that he always gives Michael when he’s being a pain in the ass, which makes Jim feel like a slug. He hates putting Toby in an uncomfortable position, but he needs that address.
Jim pulls up a nearby chair and sits down. “Look, I guess we’re supposed to disclose this to you anyway, so, uh, the thing is, I asked Pam out today.”
“Really?” Toby looks surprised.
“Yeah, and she said yes, which is great. And I’m supposed to pick her up at seven, only I got a call from a client before I could ask her for her new address and now she’s gone home and I don’t actually know where I’m supposed to pick her up.”
“What about Karen?”
“We broke up.”
“I thought you two were, you know, serious.”
“Yeah, I guess I just realized that what I really wanted was to be with Pam.”
“How about that.” Toby smiles faintly, but he actually looks sad for some reason, which makes Jim think that Toby must have really liked Karen.
“Well, that’s great,” Toby says, only he doesn’t sound like it’s very great.
“So, what do you say, Toby? Please?”
Toby stares at him for a while, like he’s trying to decide whether or not to do it, which is ridiculous, because it’s not like Jim’s going to start nailing dead squirrels to Pam’s door. Finally Toby sighs one of his defeated-sounding Toby sighs and opens his file drawer. “I guess Pam won’t mind.”
“Thanks a lot, Toby, you’re a champ.” Jim stands and shifts impatiently from foot to foot while Toby copies the address onto a post-it.
“Good luck,” Toby says kind of wistfully when he hands it over.
“Thanks, man!” Jim makes a silent vow to take Toby out to lunch next week as a thank you.
So, it’s 5:30, but there’s still time for Jim to race home, shower, change, pick up the flowers and get to Pam’s, which turns out not to be too far from her old place. All he has to do is―
“Jim! Good, you’re still here,” says Michael, emerging suddenly from his office. “I was thinking of heading over to Applebee’s for a cold one, wanna come with?”
“Actually, I’m just on my way―”
“Two dollar Bahama Mamas until seven!” Michael illustrates with a little dance that Jim assumes is meant to be Bahamian, but looks more like an old man slipping in the shower.
Jim suppresses a smile. “Sounds like fun, but unfortunately I’ve already got plans, and I’m sort of late, so―”
“Hot date with Karen?”
“I’ve got a hottie waiting at home, too, you know.”
Jim edges toward the door. “That’s great, so I’ll see you―”
“Yeah, the little woman’s probably waiting to greet me, all wrapped up in Saran Wrap like Kathy Bates.” Michael shudders. “Just before she breaks both of James Caan’s ankles.”
“I think you may be mixing up Misery and Fried Green Tomatoes.”
“Really? Hmmm. Listen, we’re friends, you and me. Campadres. Amigas. I can confide in you, right?”
“Sure,” Jim says, with a feeling of deepest foreboding.
“The thing is... “ Michael leans in close enough that Jim can smell the Jolly Ranchers on his breath. “The thing is, I’m sort of afraid to go home.”
“It’s just that when Jan and I were together before, it wasn’t exactly a nurturing, healthy partnership, you know? But she’s very fragile right now and after that awful, horrible scene this morning...”
“Yeah,” Jim says uncomfortably.
“Suddenly she’s talking about moving in with me and wearing stretch pants and joining something called a key club, which I don’t even know what that is...”
“Wow.” Jim starts edging away again.
“I just―I don’t know what to do and I need someone to talk to. Mano y mano.”
“Gee, Michael. I really wish I could stay, it’s just that I’ve got―”
“You’ve got plans, right. Sure.” Michael tries to wave it off like it’s nothing, but his lower lip is trembling and his face is all pinched like he’s trying not to cry.
Jim feels like he just stomped on a baby bird. “Hey, what about tomorrow? We could go out to lunch, maybe?”
“Nah, it’s fine. I’ll be fine,” Michael says, his voice breaking. “Go, have your great evening.”
Jim would gladly give one hundred thousand dollars to have Dwight back in the office right now. But Dwight’s probably off enjoying a romantic book burning with Angela instead of here taking care of Michael like he’s supposed to be.
He looks at his watch and then back at Michael. “I can give you ten minutes. But then I have to go, okay?”
Michael’s so grateful he does a goofy sort of skipping hop and throws his arm around Jim’s shoulders. “Lemme ask you, do you and Karen ever use props in your lovemaking? Because Jan’s been talking about something called anal beads and I’m not really...”
Twenty-five minutes later Jim finally manages to extricate himself from Michael’s office, feeling drained and nauseated. At one point he actually resorted to reciting the Gettysburg Address in his head in order to block out a description of one Michael and Jan’s more disturbing adventures in roleplaying. And he had to give Michael a hug before he could get away. A long, creepy hug.
At this point there’s no way Jim has time to go home, shower and stop for Pam’s flowers. He reluctantly chooses to forgo the flowers because after that conversation with Michael he needs the shower.
Traffic is, predictably, a bitch, and to make matters worse, one of the signal lights by his apartment is stuck blinking red which adds an extra ten minutes to the commute. He takes the fastest shower of his life but has no time to shave or try to do something with the ridiculous haircut Karen talked him into getting. And then when he pulls on the shirt he was planning to wear, one of the damn buttons pops off.
Now he’s running late and he’s got to pick another shirt and DAMMIT he really liked the way he looked in the other one and he can’t decide if Pam would like him better in brown or black and he doesn’t have TIME to stand here deliberating but he really wants to look good and FUCK this night is not going the way he planned. He grabs the brown shirt because the black has these epaulets on the shoulders that he’s not entirely sure about even though Karen told him they were cool and really that’s enough reason right there not to wear the black shirt tonight.
On his way out he stops by the kitchen and grabs something out of the pantry because he will be damned if he’s going show up at Pam’s door late and empty-handed.
The traffic light is still broken, which is awesome, only not, and Jim has plenty of time on the drive over to Pam’s to contemplate exactly how much he’s fucked up his plan for The Perfect Date.
At least he knows he has the right CD in the car. Except when he opens the Rogue Wave case there’s a Shout Out Louds CD in there and inside the Shout Out Louds case is a Wilco CD and inside that case is a mix Karen made him, which he hides in the glove box, and he DOES NOT HAVE TIME for this shit. He ends up shoving DeVotchka into the CD player, which is probably okay, but not what he planned. Because apparently nothing is allowed to go like he planned tonight.
After missing Pam’s street twice, he finally pulls up in front of her apartment at 7:20. There’s a really long pause after he rings the bell and he wonders if a) Toby gave him the wrong address, or b) Pam gave up waiting for him and went out on her own.
And then she opens the door and her hair’s loose and curly and she’s wearing a bright blue sun dress and she looks so gorgeous that Jim just sort of stands there with his mouth open.
“Hey,” she says, and she doesn’t really sound pissed but there’s something guarded about her expression and he knows it’s because he’s so late.
“Hey,” Jim manages, his voice coming out way huskier than he intended.
“I was starting to wonder―”
“I know, I’m really sorry. There was kind of this thing with Michael and I couldn’t get away.”
“What happened with Michael?”
“You know, I don’t think I’m really ready to talk about it yet.”
“That bad?” she says, raising her eyebrows.
“Worse. So, um, you look great, by the way. Really great.”
“Thanks, so do you.” Pam looks down at the package he’s holding awkwardly in his hands. “What’s that?”
“Oh, uh, I wanted to get you flowers, but then I didn’t have time because of Michael, so I brought you flour.” He holds the half-empty bag of flour out lamely.
“Oh.” Pam looks confused, which wasn’t exactly the effect he was going for. She also doesn’t take the flour.
“It’s from Stranger than Fiction,” he says pathetically.
“I haven’t seen that yet.”
“Oh, well there’s this really great scene in the movie... which I’ve now totally ruined for you, and this is so not going the way I wanted it to.” He really wishes the ground would open up and swallow him before this gets worse. Unsurprisingly, the ground does not comply.
“No, it’s sweet,” says Pam, obviously trying to make him feel better.
“It’s not sweet, it’s lame. I had this whole plan for tonight and then it got screwed up and I’m sorry, because I really wanted everything to be perfect.”
If only he could go back in time and blow off Diane―whom he officially hates now―and do this the right way because this is Pam and she deserves nothing less than perfection. After everything they’ve been through to get here she sure as hell deserves a better date than this is turning out to be.
But Pam just smiles at him, her eyes shining so brightly it makes Jim’s breath hitch in his chest. “I think it’s going great so far,” she says.
“Really.” She reaches out to take the bag of flour and when her fingers touch his it’s like an electric jolt. Instead of pulling away, Pam stays still, her hands lightly resting against his.
It’s all the encouragement Jim needs. He leans in closer, close enough to feel her breath on his lips, and she’s still smiling at him so he kisses her. Her lip gloss tastes like cotton candy and she stands on her tiptoes and puts one hand on his shoulder for balance and Jim slips a hand around her waist, pulling her even closer. The stupid bag of flour is pressed awkwardly between them and when it finally starts to fall Pam pulls away to grab it and they both giggle like teenagers.
Jim would be happy to keep kissing her all night, but they’ve got a date to go on and dinner reservations which they’re running late for so he waits patiently while Pam puts the flour in her apartment. On the way to the car she lets him hold her hand and he considers kissing her again before he opens her door, but then decides they’d probably never make it to dinner, so he kisses the back of her hand instead.
When he starts the engine “You Love Me” is playing and Pam says, “Oh my god, I love this song!” and beams at him so happily it makes his stomach lurch.
Maybe he’ll still get his Perfect Date with Pam after all.
Continue to Chapter 3