By now, Ryan should be used to having the cameras on him. A couple of years at Dunder-Mifflin with every moment being caught on film should have given him an edge. An ability to think quickly with an audience that most people just don’t possess. Apparently, however, two years experience under the bright lights weren’t enough to compensate for standing in the middle of a dusty street while clutching a giant fish.
“Come on, Ryan!” Kelly’s shouting from the other end of the street and she’s practically dancing with excitement. “We’ve got to hurry!”
Ryan sighed, gulped, and tightened his hands on the fish. A squishing feeling against his palms told him that that might have been a mistake. The latest mistake in a long list of mistakes that started with a conversation with Kelly six months ago.
"And then Sara - you remember Sara, Ryan, she was going out with Carl, but he was a total slut and cheated on her five times with her cousin Emily, so she dumped him, which was cool but if she had asked me, I would have told her she should have waited because he works for RCA Records, and what’s another few weeks if it means you can score free tickets, anyway? Well, Sara told me that applications are due by the end of the month so I went ahead and sent one in."
“Sure.” Ryan glanced at his watch. Fifteen minutes left.
Ryan stares at the camera, mouth working silently for a second.
"American Idol was on television. It's one of Kelly's two favorite shows, so we never miss it."
“Wednesdays used to be Poker Night with the guys.”
There are two problems with trying to dash across a dirt-covered street while clutching a giant bass. The second, Ryan quickly discovered, was the bicycles.
“Ryan!” Kelly’s horrified shriek, Ryan noticed out of the corner of his eye, actually made one of the crew drop his camera. Maybe, he thought hopefully, this footage would never see airtime. He struggled back to his feet, trying to dust off the fish. Fish, he realized, did not actually dust off. He stared down at it in dismay, shrugged, and limped his way the rest of the way across the street toward Kelly.
Angela frowns tightly. "Well, I would never do it. Everbody just gets so – so filthy."
Kelly threw herself against him, apparently not at all concerned about the fish. Or the blood.
“Oh, Ryan, sweetie, are you ok? I knew that I should have gotten a basket but you know, I saw the ones in the market and they were all totally cute, handmade and everything and the thought of putting a fish in one, well I just couldn’t do it, you know? I mean, we’d have been the feature of gofugyourself and I’d totally have never lived that down.”
Ryan glanced down at himself. Torn jeans, fish scales, traces of blood. A smear of something brown he absolutely didn't want to identify. “No. We wouldn’t have wanted that.”
Pam’s mouth twitches. “When Michael first heard about Kelly and Ryan applying for The Amazing Race, he wrote the producers with a great idea for the new season – one based around the employees of a single company all participating. A paper company. There were diagrams and scenes from some video he'd made. Kelly and Ryan. Phyllis and Oscar. Dwight and Angela – that was my idea. Before I realized he was serious.”
Pam looks up at the ceiling, biting her lip a second. “Creed and Meredith – he figured they’d be the first knocked out. He was going to sign-up with Jan. He, um, kept talking about how romantic it would be. It was a little awkward."
"He put my name down with Jim...” Her voice breaks off and then she resumes, quieter, “Somehow the letter never made it into the outgoing mail.”
Kelly tugged at his sleeve. “Come on, Ryan, isn’t this exciting? Isn’t this the best idea, ever? I’m totally glad that you said no to our entering American Idol as a duet, because this is so much more fun. We can so win this, just a few more challenges and like, two more weeks to go!”
“Two weeks.” Ryan repeated, numbly. Somewhere, in a cubicle far, far away, a temp was probably answering his phone.