Absolutely, I Do
i. turn my hands from this labor and lift me through
"Oh, I'm being honest. What, you don't believe me? Honest to God, Beesly, he's out there, and he is looking for me."
Pam stifles her laugh with a warm hand. The chair she is leaning against wiggles with her movement and Jim quickly reaches out to steady it, pulling it slightly farther under the desk and trapping it there with his knee. His socks are sliding down into his shoes, and Pam's pantyhose have a run near the knee, but she doesn't seem to notice.
"I know it's a stupid question," says Pam, giving Jim a wry look, "but how does this constitute hiding under my desk? Dwight spends half his time here hunting you down."
He stretches the corners of his lips down into a disapproving frown, placing his hand firmly on the hard plastic chair mat under their legs. "I don't think you understand the gravity of this situation, Pam. I really don't. And I'm concerned that you're not taking this seriously."
Pam pulls a serious, mock-concerned face and places her hand on top of his, locking her eyes with Jim's in an act of solidarity that makes him want to abandon his hiding place and go cool off somewhere. Like Antarctica.
"I am taking you very seriously, James Halpert," she says in a flat tone. "I just want to know what you think we need to do about it. And why we are hiding under my desk." At that last line, her facade breaks and she giggles, breaking eye contact. "I feel like I'm five again."
Maybe it's because his breathing has quickened, maybe it's because his hand is shaking a little, but she looks into his eyes, going serious again and taking her hand off his. Suddenly he's aware of all the places they're still touching - at the knees; where his arm he's supporting himself with is brushing against her warm thigh; he can even feel her heat through where their shoes connect - or maybe he's just imagining it.
"Are you sure you can handle this, Pam? Do you honestly want to take this chance?" he says in a strangely normal voice, though he's sure she caught the strain at the end of 'chance'.
And maybe she notices the double entendre, maybe she doesn't, but he thinks she does when she places her hand back on top of his and says seriously, "Absolutely, I do".
ii. from outside a tiny garden somebody once laid their hearts on
The windows in Michael's office and the conference room are open, but Jim can't stop smelling the odd mixture of body odor and printer ink that has settled over the office like a haze. Everyone's moving in slow motion today, like swimming underwater in a giant, paper-filled fishbowl, and Jim is no exception. Sometimes he feels like he's not moving - or maybe it's time that isn't moving, but either way he's going nowhere soon.
Pam's got her head and arms glued to the top of her desk, still and quiet. Jim thinks she's sleeping half the time, but every so often she'll drearily lift her head and do something for a few minutes before laying back down. She is wearing a light yellow t-shirt and pale blue jean capris, because today is Michael's favorite day of the week - mandatory Casual Friday, which has become an enforced rule since summer began with no working air conditioning. Michael always seems disappointed when Pam isn't wearing Daisy Dukes, but Jim lives for Casual Fridays.
Dwight has begun an annoying new trend of fanning himself with a different type of paper every day, trying to find a brand that Dunder Mifflin stocks that is most efficient at cooling him down. This day, he's tried a style that he initially wouldn't try, because it is a soft pink, but now he's creating fans for everyone around the office. Jim has been assigned to aid him in this effort, but after making one fan he laid his head down on his cool keyboard, and Dwight hasn't said anything about it.
Jim sinks down into a torpor that he doesn't climb out of until someone shakes his shoulder, repeating his name until he opens his eyes.
His eyelids flutter back to reveal a yellow t-shirt stretched over skin, but he doesn't have time to say anything before he's being yanked out of his seat and led down and out of the office.
"Pam," he begins, but she hushes him quickly. Her hand is hot on the exposed flesh of his upper arm, since, like her, he's taken advantage of Casual Friday - a short-sleeved tee with the faded name of some band Pam had never heard before and a pair of well-worn jeans. Jim has never been much for dressing up, but he knows he looks his best when he doesn't try too hard, even though he spent half an hour this morning trying to decide what to wear.
They stand side by side, sweating, in the elevator. Jim tries to say something again, but Pam hushes him with a finger to her lips and a quick glare. He thinks she might be mad, and furrows his eyebrows in a meaningful question. His fearful suspicion is cleared up when she winks and then puts an angry face back on.
As the elevator reaches first floor and the doors open, Pam steps out of the elevator, but Jim stays back, holding the doors open.
"Hold it, Beesly," he says. "I am not moving one more inch until you tell me where I'm going. I've never been kidnapped before, and I don't plan on starting now."
Pam grins wildly, grabbing his hand that's been keeping the doors open, and begins to run out the front doors. His world narrows down to the flecks of yellow paint on her lightly tanned arm, and he lets himself be dragged along in her wake. He's suddenly elated; a kind of fuzzy happy that he hasn't felt in a long time takes the wheel.
Smiling widely, he shouts, "Do you want me to call the cops, Pam?"
Her hair streaming behind her, she doesn't look back when she yells, "Absolutely, I do."
He howls his laughter to the midday sun.
iii. hear hot blood flap and flutter from your temple to your shoulder - and all through you
Big flecks of white have blotted out his windshield, and Jim knows he should go home, but he can't bring himself to do it.
He's pulled himself into a parking lot across from her apartment complex. The apartment that she shares with her fiancee Roy, 4C, has the windows lit. He knows those windows are hers, because he's seen the view from where she's probably sitting on the couch now. If she'd get up and look out the window, she'd see his car. But she probably wouldn't notice it was him.
Jim knows Roy isn't home again because two candles are lit in the window. She never lights candles when Roy is home, he knows, because Roy hates the smell.
He's got a case of grape soda and a bouquet of flowers next to him, and he's desperately lonely. The soda and flowers are for Pam, because she had a hard day today and he thinks she would really like some cheering up. He'd mustered the courage to bring them to her door before he realised she might want to just relax, have some time alone without Roy home. So he sits in the parking lot, watching, deliberating, waiting.
A sudden flicker at her window alerts his eyes. The candles have gone out, and - yes - there go the lights. Pam's probably getting ready for bed in the bathroom that Roy wanted left plain white; fumbling for her glasses after she's taken her contact lenses out. Something inside of Jim sinks a little lower than he thought it could. He's ready to hand her those glasses when her vision goes blurry; ready to carry her to bed if she falls asleep on the couch; ready to cover her in blankets and put up with her if she steals them during her slumber.
He's got his hand on the shift, ready to leave finally, when a new light, dimmer now, flickers on in the window next to her living room. Jim's pretty sure it's Pam's kitchen. And then there she is, standing at her sink, putting a pair of yellow rubber gloves on. So blindingly domestic that Jim can hardly draw a breath. She opens the window a crack. Jim supposes it's so that she can let the steam from the hot water escape into the outdoors.
Pam is bent low under the sink, hands drifting in and out of the hot water from the faucet. She washes a dish, then places it in the drainer next to her, repeating the same rhythm over and over. In a quick moment, she tosses her head back, shakes it side to side.
Jim steps outside his car door, hoping to get a better look at what she's doing. Holding the bouquet, he locks his car quickly; sprints over to a leafless tree directly across from her apartment window. If he took maybe 30 steps, he thinks he'd be right under her window. And he knows he shouldn't be doing this; she could see him, she could call the cops, thinking he was some creep. Which, he reasons with himself, he is. But he came here with the best of intentions.
Notes of a tune, off-key and clear, make their way down to Jim under the tree. He can see her clearly now; her mouth is wide open and singing loud, hair falling out of the clip she'd held it back with.
"Ooh ooh, I love you, baby - believe me, it's true," she sings. "Ooh, I love you, baby - absolutely, I do."
The next morning, there is a frozen bouquet of flowers laying outside her front door. Jim keeps the soda for himself.
iv. when you hold on to me it isn't easy, but you should hold on to me
Thanksgiving in Scranton has never been easy. Without fail, every year the streets are congested with the terminally stuffed and the after-dinner crowd, scattered with a big group of last-minute shoppers. Normally an ambulance or two is wailing about, trying to cut through the masses of people and cars. Last year, it took the EMTs thirty minutes to reach a kid who'd fallen and broken his arm over on Main Street, just trying to force a path through.
Jim Halpert is no exception to this rule, though he wishes he was. His hands are stuffed into the pockets of his blue jeans, fingers tapping impatiently on his thighs. He's standing at the crosswalk, waiting for the light to change, even though he knows no one obeys the traffic lights downtown on Thanksgiving Day.
Larissa Halpert, his loving mother, conveniently forgot cranberry sauce, forcing her middle son out the front door to scavenge for some - literally forcing, and literally scavenging. He'll be lucky to find some in the grocery store, if he makes it that far through this mob of festive holiday-goers. The light changes, and Jim walks forward quickly, racing the other pedestrians for safety on the other side of the street.
Pam's in Wilkes-Barre with her family this year, leaving Roy to travel on his own to Hazleton, where his parents had moved after he'd graduated high school. Karen had wanted to come to the Halpert festivities, but Jim had left her to travel to Connecticut on her own. He tells her that it's because she needs to see her family, whom she hasn't seen since moving to Scranton, but really he just doesn't want to bring her home.
The Hilander's on Broad Street is open, and also the most likely to have cranberry sauce, so Jim waits for the automatic doors to permit his entrance. He wipes his nose on the back of his jacket sleeve, having been congested and runny-nosed for the last week and a half. Karen isn't exactly the mothering type, and refused to rush him to the hospital Tuesday when he thought he was dying. She was right, and his throat was only clogged, but nonetheless, he was glad to be at his mother's house where he could be taken care of properly.
Even if she did forcibly push him out the front door, he knew she loved him and would take care of him. He'd just have to wait a while for the 'taking care of' part.
The heater overhead breathes hot air into Jim's shaggy brown hair, sending it into his eyes. Still walking, he shakes his head to get the offending strands out of his eyes. This only serves to make his eyes water, which makes his nose run, which makes his sinuses clog, which makes his head hurt more - a whole chain reaction.
Jim heads semi-blindly towards the toilet paper and tissue aisle, hoping he can steal a couple Kleenex out of a box unobtrusively. Rounding a corner past the batteries, he wipes his eyes with the other sleeve of his winter coat, sniffling unconcernedly, and then there she is.
She's rocking on the balls of her feet, warm in a soft purple v-neck sweater, jeans, and a worn pair of Chuck Taylors that look like she's been wearing them since high school. Her pointer finger is being worried by her front teeth; she's absentmindedly chewing on the fingernail while looking at shampoo. Her paint-splattered wallet is hanging out of her back pocket, and her keys are dangling ominously from one of the front pockets.
Jim is indignant, excited, surprised, wild, confused, pained, afraid, but ignores the others and focuses on indignancy for the time being. How dare she remain in his hometown while her family waits for her in Wilkes-Barre? How dare she interrupt his Kleenex-pilfering escapade? He wants to escape while he still can. So he takes a step backwards cautiously, and his shoe ekes out a small squeak on the tile floor.
Pam looks up from where she'd crouched on the floor to look at lower levels of shampoo, and her eyes grow wide with shock, he thinks, or fear. Nervously, she straightens up, and her keys fall to the floor, but she doesn't move to pick them up.
Jim is frightened and panicking, but he tries not to show it. Suddenly, he's incredibly self-conscious about his watering eyes and his red, running nose. He tries to sniff, and it's a relatively quiet one, but to him it sounds like an earthquake.
He bargains desperately. Dear God, please let me make it out of this alive. And while you're at it, bring me the goddamn cranberry sauce so I can leave.
She bends down to get her keys quickly, then awkwardly stands straight again, brushing her hair behind her ear. He notices she's put it in big, loose waves for the holiday, and his heart starts beating like tribal drums.
Pam gives him a tentative smile, raising her hand a bit in some kind of greeting. "Hey," she says in a small voice.
"Nnghhhk," he says, cordially.
She seems to think this serves as an ice breaker, and laughs a little. Jim is terrified and humiliated. Of all the things to say, he chooses something that probably isn't a word in any language. He feels like he's in middle school all over again, which is how being embarrassed in front of Pam usually feels - scared, humiliated, and 14 again.
"So, um, Halpert," says Pam more boldly, "what brings you to this grocery? Shouldn't you be with your family?"
"Shouldn't you be in Wilkes-Barre with yours?" Jim says, a little brusquely. He didn't mean for it to come out that way, and she visibly withers a bit.
"They just, uh, came down to see my new apartment this morning. I painted and decorated. They're going to my brother's place, just outside of town, to visit for a while. And I'm just stopping to pick up some, um, shampoo before we go up there, cause I've seen Joey's house, and I'm staying at my parents'... all weekend. And I thought I might need some essentials. And. You know. That kind of thing." She seems to cut herself off, blushing a bit.
"Gotcha. Yeah, I'm just here to pick up some cranberry sauce for my mom. She forgot it when she went shopping yesterday."
"You better hope you can find any. You've thrown yourself into the piranha nest now, Jim. It's vicious in here. I saw two women fighting over the last Butterball this morning." She laughs, and he laughs too, and it's comfortable for all of three seconds. Then it becomes awkward again, and he jams his hands back in his pockets, wishing for all the world he could turn into a puddle and die.
Pam breaks the silence abruptly. "So, I think I've got the shampoo I want," she says, gesturing to the wall of shampoos, "and I should, um, I should probably, you know, get going." She reaches haphazardly for a bottle of lilac-scented shampoo - which is his favorite, and he knows she knows - and sends the whole rack toppling. Several shampoo bottles hit the floor and burst. Pam squeaks a little, sprinting towards where Jim is standing, and watches them fall from behind his back.
He turns around to face her. He's started to shake from holding in laughter, and he releases it in a big clap of noise. She's blushing bright pink now, embarrassed tears popping into the corners of her eyes.
"Now where am I going to get my hair-care products, Pam Beesly?" he jokes, to make her feel better, and she smiles a little. "Come on, want to get out of here before anyone sees the mess you've created?"
She grins happily and gives a big sigh of relief. "Absolutely, I do."
They walk quickly out of the aisle and into the main store, giggling like schoolchildren, and just as they are about to step out the door, Jim yells, "Cleanup in Aisle 8!"
He and Pam get to the corner of Broad and Chestnut and pause to laugh and breathe. "Oh, Pam, you've just caused a huge shampoo shortage in Scranton. I never thought you were so... rebellious."
"You know me," she says, panting a bit from running and laughing, "I'm one step away from anarchy at all times."
They stand there, smiling at each other for a minute, and on a wild impulse, heart full and beating fast, he says, "Hey, do you have a few minutes to come with me somewhere?"
Pam's eyes widen in surprise and curiosity. "I've got about an hour or two before we actually leave, I think. So it depends... where?"
Jim takes a deep breath, or as deep as his congested chest will allow him to, before he says quickly, "I want you to come home and have a little Thanksgiving dinner with me. You know, at my parents' house. You really haven't lived until you've had my mom's stuffing."
He's nervous and scared, and expects her to turn him down. Tears jump into the corners of her eyes again, but he can see she's fighting them away hard, so he doesn't say anything. "Yes," she says, gratefully. "Yes, I would love to."
"Great!" he says, a rush of relief and exhilaration pounding through him. "Come on, then - I can see the light is going to change, and we've gotta get across that street. It's a jungle out there."
But Pam stops him with a hand on the arm, and he looks at her expectantly. "Thanks, Jim. I, um, I mean it." He can't read her emotion, and he doesn't want to look too far into the situation right now, so he grabs her hand and begins to walk quickly.
"Oh, forget about it, Pam. The only reason I'm bringing you home is so you can explain to my mother why I still don't have any cranberry sauce." Pam smiles giddily, and picks up their pace a little.
"I can handle that."
Jim feels wild and free, like a million bucks, and he can't remember ever loving having a cold before now.
v. and then they lie inside some secret place where the sun looks through the open ceiling
She steps out of the shower, wrings the water out of her hair, and puts on a bathrobe. It's a nice, early June day; the wood floor in the hallway is shining with bright, late spring light. She breathes in deep, knowing it's going to be a nice summer.
Except for the fact that her boyfriend seems to be missing.
Pam Beesly hasn't seen Jim Halpert all morning. She's assuming that he just went into work early, or maybe hoping; she won't allow herself to really worry until it's been at least twelve hours since she last saw him. And it's not like she wouldn't have seen him already if he were still at his apartment, where she is - Jim isn't the kind of guy you can just lose. If you're over six feet tall, it's kind of difficult to hide in the oven, or in the dryer, but Pam checked those places for him anyway.
She hurries through her morning routine; drying hair, brushing teeth, getting dressed, all in a flurry of motion. Normally it takes her at least half an hour, but literally ten minutes is all she allows herself today. Michael won't care, she knows, if she's wearing just a nice t-shirt and jeans. As long as she's not wearing her glasses, which he hates.
And she's striving for calmness and normalcy, but she's steadily growing more and more afraid of what's happened to Jim. His car isn't in the parking lot, she notices, as she runs out to her car. She knows it's probably irrational; Jim is a grown man, and a capable one at that, but she can't help worrying.
Probably breaking several speed laws, Pam rushes to the Scranton business park, where Dunder Mifflin lies in wait. Hanging a sharp left past the gated entrance, she parks - no cars besides hers there, but regardless, she throws it into park and opens the door, not bothering to wait for the elevator and taking the stairs two at a time.
Rushing the Dunder Mifflin door, she bursts in to a darkened and empty office that feels hauntingly familiar from a May night years ago. She's in a full-blown panic now, desperate for someone to be here, to help her find Jim.
And maybe there is a God, thinks Pam, because a ray of hot sunlight illuminates something sitting on the floor. It's her teapot that Jim gave her for Christmas during Secret Santa/Yankee Swap, and it's got something heavy in it that she feels when she lifts it up.
Heart beating fast, she reaches in the teapot and first pulls out a rock, then a slip of paper. It's Jim's handwriting, and now she's suspicious. 'Go to the roof,' it says, 'because I know you can't resist now that I've told you to.'
And then she's racing out the door, climbing up the ladder that will take her to the roof, going out the door that's up there, and there's Jim, laying out on a folding chair.
"James Halpert," she says in a wobbling voice, walking up to stand behind him, "I am sweating profusely, and I'm going to let Dwight use you for target practice if you don't tell me what you're doing here right now." She's trying to act tough, but it's hard when she's so relieved that he's alright.
Instead of answering her question, he shades his eyes with one hand and says, "Wouldn't it be nice to get a house with a terrace?"
"You know that's... You know I would, Jim. That's my dream house."
"Well, I'd like it, too. So how about we share, you know, that house? I could have one half, you could have the other, or..." Standing up, he looks off into the distance, still not looking at her. "We could share the whole thing. Together. What would you think?"
Curious, she says, "Jim, what on earth are you talking about? You know there are no - "
And then he turns around and questions, "Marry me?" with a slight sunburn from sitting out too long, with an old t-shirt on and jeans, with freckles starting to bloom against the tan on his arms.
He gets nervous because she's not answering, so he asks again. "Marry me. Will you? Do you, you know, want to?"
He cringes as she bursts into laughter. "Do I want to? Halpert, do I want to?"
Shoving his hands in his pockets, he looks down, then up at her again, nervous and starting to sweat. "Yeah. Do you, um, do you want to?"
"I guess. It could be fun. Yeah, I guess so," she says, nonchalantly striding away from him to the edge of the roof, wind whipping her hair. Her hands are in her back pockets and her spine is facing him; she's looking out over Scranton, and she thinks if she looks hard enough, she can see all the way back to the night she told him she couldn't.
"You - you do?" he gasps disbelievingly, trotting over to where she is. Jim stands right next to her, teetering on the precipice of not just the roof, but of everything, he thinks. He's not sure he heard her right, because it's so windy and she didn't exactly scream it, and she only said 'I guess' and what was that about fun? and -
She turns to him and lets out a sly, mischievous grin. "Absolutely, I do."