"That was some party," Jim says, and it feels weird and fake in a way nothing has since he and Pam have been together. He wants to kill Andy for stealing his thunder, and he wants to kick himself for caring.
Pam's got her arms folded across her chest and she's looking at his left shoulder when she says, "Yeah."
The ride back to her apartment is tense and weird, and for the first time since they got together, Jim hesitates when they pull up in front of her building.
Maybe she senses that, because she says, "I'm kind of tired," and gives him a quick kiss. She's out of the car before he can even get his seatbelt unbuckled. Jim's dated enough to know that's girl code for don't come in, but Pam's never said it to him before, and it rocks him back for a second.
She's fumbling with her keys, one hand already on the doorknob, when he catches up to her, sinks down on one knee right there on the doorstep.
He holds the ring up to her, hoping the small diamond catches the yellow light from the doorway.
"Marry me, Beesly."
She looks down at him, eyes wide in shock. "Jim?" she says, like she doesn't quite believe he's really doing it this time. "Seriously?"
"Seriously, Pam. Marry me."
"Yes," she says, and then, a little louder, "Yes."
Pam's got her life--or what she thinks she'll need for the next three months of it--packed into her car. She's got a sublet in Brooklyn lined up--the tenants are friends of Jan's, and Pam tries not to think too hard about where Jan has ended up, tries not to see herself in Jan's place (and Jim in Michael's) ten years down the line.
She knows she's doing the right thing, the thing she's wanted to do her whole life, and she refuses to give in to the doubts that kept her awake most of the night. She said goodbye to Jim last night, left his apartment and forced herself not to look back to see if he was watching her walk away.
It felt ridiculously final, even though she knows it isn't.
It's not that long a drive, and they'll see each other on weekends, and they'll be in touch by text and phone, so it's not like she's never going to see him again, even though sometimes, that's how it feels.
She gets into the car, fiddles with the mirrors even though she drove it home last night so they don't need fixing, and then she puts her hands on the wheel and holds tight, trying to keep them from shaking.
She puts the car in drive and takes one last look in the mirror as she's getting ready to pull out. Jim is there on the sidewalk, looking lost and alone in the early morning sunlight.
"Pam," he yells, oblivious to any sleeping neighbors and the lady walking her dog across the street. "Pam Beesly, will you marry me?"
Pam slams on the brakes, harder than she means to, and rolls down her window. Jim runs up, curls his hand over the door, and says it again. "Will you marry me?" He fumbles in his pocket and comes up with a velvet box, and Pam has to tighten her hands on the steering wheel again.
"I--" She should know how to answer this question; she's been waiting for him to ask it for months.
"Please?" He flips the box open, shows her the ring, like that's the important part, like that's what she really wants from him.
She takes a deep breath, uncurls her hand from the steering wheel, pleased to see it's not shaking at all, and lays it on top of Jim's. His knuckles are as white as hers.
"Yes," she says. "Yes, I will."
Jim can pinpoint exactly when everything started going wrong. It's all Andy's fault. If Andy hadn't jumped on his bandwagon--stolen his thunder (or his fireworks, at least)--he and Pam would be engaged now. She'd still be in New York, but maybe he'd have made it out to see her more than twice in two and a half months. They'd definitely talk more than twice a week, and be on AIM at all hours when they weren't on the phone.
Giving Pam some space after she left for New York had seemed like a good idea at the time. He wanted her to do well, wanted her to be happy, to get out of Dunder Mifflin, even if it meant he was stuck there alone. He believed in her, in her talent and vision, believed she could do anything she wanted to, and he loved that she had finally learned to believe in herself.
So he'd let her go, kissed her goodbye standing in front of the apartment she was subletting and driven back to Scranton alone. He'd called her after her first day of classes, and she'd been breathless, overwhelmed, but excited in a way he hadn't seen very often. Then she'd been busy with homework, outings to museums and galleries and concerts--the kinds of things that they'd never done together in Scranton.
He tries not to think about the people she's meeting--painters, sculptors, men who model naked for life drawing classes, people who can offer her more than a dead end sales job and another prank on Dwight.
He still has the ring, still carries it around in his pocket, but their calls have gotten shorter and more infrequent as the summer has flown by, and now he wonders if the moment has passed, if he's never going to ask her, and she's never going to say yes.
It makes him sick to his stomach to think about it, and he can't even be bothered to come up with a new scheme to drive Dwight crazy. He actually feels kind of sympathetic--Dwight lost Angela to Andy, and from one perspective, Jim's losing Pam the same way.
It's four thirty-five on a Thursday afternoon in August, and Jim can't face making another sales call. He dials Pam's number instinctively, and it rings before he can hang up.
"Hey," she says, breathless and surprised and so very Pam that his whole body aches with missing her.
"Hey," he says, fingers running over the soft velvet of the jewelry box in his pocket. He's surprised it's not worn threadbare by how often he's done that the past few months. "I have an idea. It's a crazy idea, but I think you might like it. I hope so, anyway."
"Let's get married."
He can hear her startled gasp, and then there's a long silence that makes his gut clench in fear.
"I could come to New York, we could do it this weekend," he says, babbling now, "unless you have plans?"
"No," she says, and Jim's never really thought anything could be worse than when she told him she didn't love him, but he was wrong. "I don't have plans."
Jim exhales a long, relieved, ecstatic breath. "Okay," he says. "It's a date."
Pam's got a headache from staring at a monitor all day and she's thinking of buying a new wrist rest because the wrist on her mouse hand is starting to ache. She wants to go back to the apartment she's subletting and sink down into the tub with a glass of wine and a good book, and she's not watching where she's going. She stumbles into someone and mutters an apology, still not used to the sheer number of people milling around on the sidewalk in the city.
Large hands grip her biceps, and a familiar voice says, "Pam?"
She looks up and there's Jim, towering over her, his face flushed and his sweaty hair stuck to his forehead. She blinks in surprise, expecting him to disappear when she opens her eyes again, because she's missed him so much and maybe she's finally lost it and is hallucinating, but no, he's still there.
"Hi," she says, her face curving in a wide smile that feels good.
"Hi." They stare at each other for a long moment and then she goes up on her tippy-toes and he bends down and they're kissing, wet and hot and sloppy.
Oh yeah, she's missed him a lot.
"So, I was in the neighborhood," he says, and she starts laughing. He grins down at her, goofy and sly and Jim at his most adorable. "You don't believe me, but really, I was in the neighborhood, and I was hoping you'd want to go to dinner."
She still has a headache and a crick in her neck, but she hasn't seen him in weeks and isn't strong enough to resist him now, even if she wanted to. "Sure. There's a Chinese place on Twelfth--I go there for lunch sometimes. It looks like a hole in the wall but the dumplings are really good."
"I was thinking we'd go for Italian," he says, taking her hand and leading her west on Fourteenth Street.
He catches her up on everything that's happening at the office, even though they talk on the phone two or three times a week. Things have been a little weird since Toby's goodbye party--she'd been so sure Jim was going to propose that when he didn't, she'd freaked a little. He'd noticed, of course--how could he not?--but he hadn't really done anything to fix it, and Pam wonders if maybe that was it, if there's never going to be anything more than this with her and Jim, and if it's enough.
"Here," Jim says, breaking into her reverie. He holds the door for her, and says to the hostess, "Reservation for two under Halpert?"
The place is much nicer than she expected, all exposed red brick and dark wood, and she feels a little underdressed, but Jim doesn't seem to notice. The hostess leads them outside to sit in the little garden on the triangular patch of sidewalk dividing Ninth Avenue from Hudson Street.
After they order, she goes to the ladies' room, and when she comes back, Jim is fiddling with something in his hands.
She sits down and puts her napkin in her lap. It never used to be hard to talk to him, but now she doesn't know what to say. Roy was never interested in hearing about her day, and while that's never been Jim's problem, they don't have the same rhythm anymore, so she isn't sure how to start.
"I know things have been a little, well, weird," Jim says, and she lets out a surprised little huff of air. "And I know that's mostly my fault. Well, mostly it's Andy's fault, but I'll man up and take the blame, because I didn't come here to talk about Andy."
She laughs nervously, unsure of where he's going with this. "Jim--"
He reaches across the table and takes her hand. "I thought about a bunch of different ways to do this, but none of them were good enough, and it turned into this whole big thing, and I just--I don't want to screw it up and lose you." He produces a little velvet box with the hand that's not holding hers, flicks it open with his thumb to reveal a diamond ring. "Pam, will you marry me?"
She blinks in surprise a couple of times, wondering again if she's hallucinating the whole thing, because it just came out of nowhere in the middle of his ramble. "Really?"
"Really and truly." He squeezes her hand and his palm is sweaty against hers.
He looks as serious as she's ever seen him, and there's a warm ache in her chest that makes it hard to breathe. "Yes," she says, forcing the word past the tightness in her throat. "Yes, Jim, I will."