Jim hasn't told anyone about what's been happening with Pam. Sometimes, when he goes into work in the morning, and the cameras are there, and she says hi like normal, and then they spend their day convincing Dwight that the country of Hungary doesn't really exist and all his maps are out of date, it's almost like Jim imagined all of it, like nothing has happened at all.
It's November, the trees starting to go bare, the smell of fires and rotting leaves, and by the time he leaves the windowless room they work in, the sun's already set. A few days it's even already started to smell like snow, like there's a long winter coming, that sharpness in the dark air. He and Mark try to save money by not turning on the heat until it's absolutely necessary, which means he's constantly freezing, sleeping in his Denison sweatshirt with the hood pulled up and all the blankets he owns cocooned around him.
November sucks, and usually he just puts Elliott Smith on repeat and wallows in muted depression, how he hates everything about his life and how he'll never be warm or happy again, but this year. It's weird -- he doesn't feel muted at all. He wakes up every morning feeling like he's just had a really intense dream he can't quite remember, like good things are just out of his reach, like he's almost got them.
He throws back the covers and pads into the kitchen to put the coffee on, bare feet cold on the wood floor, and as he watches it drip into the pot he thinks about Pam. Pam's knees scraped on the roof, and his back cold against the tar and her hands on his hips and Dwight yelling somewhere in the distance. Pam in his car, Pam's wrists, Pam's knees.
He knows she's with Roy; he's not an idiot. It's just that sometimes you have to get a crush out of your system, right? Get it over with, work it out. Have sex on a roof until it doesn't bother you anymore. Or whatever. It's not a big deal.
Mark comes downstairs looking grumpy, his face all squashed and sleepy.
"There's coffee," Jim says, and he thinks about Pam restricting Michael to two cups per hour, and how on Wednesday she poured his third cup of the 10 to 11 block into the trashcan. It was pretty beautiful.
Mark gives him a disgusted look. "What's up with you?"
"What?" Jim says.
"You're, like, chipper," Mark mutters, pouring coffee into his World's Best Grandpa mug. "Stop it."
"No, I'm not," Jim says.
He kind of is, though, and he goes upstairs to get dressed before Mark's awake enough to press the subject. He thinks about how he'll see Pam in half an hour, wonders if they could start raising Dwight's desk a quarter inch every day to convince him he's shrinking.
Walking out to his car, he scuffs his feet through the fallen leaves, thinks about Pam's white sneakers. Jim thinks he's never felt so wide awake as he has this fall -- his heart is pounding, all the time.
Jim looks over the guest list on the Evite one last time before he sends it, makes sure that everyone's there. Pam's name is first, which isn't going to work -- he rearranges everyone so it's alphabetical, then adds the camera guys at the end of the list. They'd come anyway, since it's a work thing, so it's easier just to head it off at the pass and be friendly. It doesn't even occur to him to invite Katy until he's already sent it out; he hasn't called her since before Halloween, just hasn't thought about it.
In an interview, he tells the camera guys that he's throwing the party so that his roommate can meet Dwight, which would be a pretty hilarious reason to throw a party. Mark has heard a lot about Dwight, that's true. And it's not like anything's going to happen between Pam and Jim at the party anyway, with everyone from work there, so it doesn't really matter that he washed his sheets, just in case.
The party seems to be going really well -- everyone's mingling, and the burgers are turning out okay, and it's nice and sort of weird to see everybody in non-work clothes.
Pam sits next to him on the couch, watching Toby play video games, laughing at something Ryan's saying to her on her other side. Jim's got his arm stretched over the back of the couch, casual, impersonal, no big deal. He's talking to Phyllis about her nephews, but the whole time he's talking he's really aware of Pam's movements, every time she shifts in her seat. He can only see her out of the corner of his eye, but his hand on the back of the couch is right behind her neck, almost perfectly lined up, and when she leans back against the couch, he can feel her hair brush his hand. Still looking at Phyllis, he stretches out his thumb to press against Pam's skin, just above her collar, not moving otherwise, so that no one looking would be able to tell. He feels her breath hitch, and then she presses back against him, just a little, and he tells Phyllis that getting her nephew a guitar for Christmas is a great idea. His breathing's shallow, and he's not looking at Pam at all, and he feels like all his nerves are in his thumb.
Later, Jim's circulating, making sure everyone's having a good time, even though without Michael there it's a pretty sure thing. When he gets to the kitchen he ends up in a conversation with Toby about music, which is cool since with Toby in the back he doesn't get to talk to him much at work anymore.
"You should definitely check out Iron and Wine," Jim says, taking a sip of beer. "It's, like, mellow. I think you'd like it."
"Yeah?" Toby says. "You should send me some mp3s."
"Actually, I have their CD," Jim says. "You want to borrow it? It's upstairs, I could grab it for you."
"Oh, um, sure!" Toby says.
"Okay, I'll be right back," Jim says, and starts making his way through the living room toward the stairs, picking his way past plates and glasses on the floor, through groups of people. As he steps over Kevin playing Xbox, Pam catches his eye from the couch and smiles, a really wide, happy smile, and his stomach hitches. When they talked about Michael and Jan, she'd asked how you come back from that. She meant sleeping with Michael, but he thought she meant sleeping with a coworker at all, with him, and he still doesn't know the answer to that one. If you can come back, or if he ever will. He thinks about kissing her at Poor Richard's, her on top of him in his car, and he just doesn't know.
Up in his room, he rummages through the stacks of CDs by his stereo until he finds Iron and Wine, but when he flips open the jewel case, there's a Decemberists CD inside. And when he flips open the Decemberists case, there's a Sufjan CD inside, and inside the Sufjan case is a Neutral Milk Hotel CD, and inside that case is Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Basically, what he discovers is that he has three hundred CDs and not one in the right case, and he's opening his twentieth case when he hears Pam say, "Hey," from behind him.
He turns around, and she's standing in the doorway to his bedroom, no camera up here now, and she must have followed him. Before, when she hung around in his room after the tour, the camera found her first, but now it's just the two of them, and Jim wonders if she's doing this on purpose, if she's been thinking about his bedroom and this party as much as he has. A wild, half-strangled hope starts rising up in his chest.
"What're you doing?" she asks, leaning against the doorframe. She's got a beer in one hand, and is fiddling with the label.
Jim waves the CD cases in his hand at her and says, "I'm trying to find this CD for Toby, but it looks like Past Jim is terrible about putting things back where they belong. What're you doing?"
Pam's eyes are dark. "Looking for you," she says.
"Oh." He stands there with empty jewel cases in his hand and watches her until she looks away, down at the desk.
"Hey," she says, looking at the corner of his desk. "There's some more CDs over here. Which one are you looking for?"
"Um," Jim says, watching her set her beer down and start to open the cases. His voice comes out soft. "Iron and Wine." He can't believe she's here, in his bedroom, again, and standing there he makes a decision. Down the hall, Stanley walks out of the bathroom and heads down the stairs.
"Nope," Pam says, putting a CD to the side and picking up the next case. "Nope."
"How many are over there?" he asks, walking across the room to look.
"Not that many," she says, and then he's positioned himself between the desk and the door, and she looks up at him and smiles, and he could care less about Iron and Wine with her right there. When he glances down the hallway, it's totally empty; they're the only ones upstairs, and she's looking at him with the bed behind her.
He reaches out for the edge of the door and carefully swings it shut, keeping his eyes on Pam's, and fumbles behind him for the button that locks it. His heart's pounding and when the lock clicks it sounds incredibly loud, final, and her eyes flick to his face, startled. When she doesn't move away, he grabs her wrist and pulls her towards him, leans down to kiss her, swipes his tongue across her bottom lip. She makes a little sound and kisses him back, and he can hear the noise from the party through the walls. Madonna, muffled, and someone who might be Meredith, singing along.
He slides his hand under Pam's shirt, then takes hold of the edge and starts pulling it up over her head until they have to stop kissing to let him pull it off. They don't have much time before someone notices they're missing, and this might be Jim's only chance for this, for her, naked, in his bed.
"Hurry," he says under his breath, and she lifts her arms to help. He tosses her shirt towards the foot of the bed, and then pulls his sweater and undershirt off together, and as he does suddenly feels a little self-conscious. He hasn't had his shirt off in front of her before; it's a stupid thing to think, after you've had sex with someone, that it's weird to have your shirt off. The air is cool on his bare skin, and Pam rests her hands on his chest when she kisses him again, and she hasn't touched him there before, such a normal place to touch someone you're sleeping with. Her hands are hot and a little damp.
He touches her breast over her bra, rubs his thumb over her nipple, and her breathing speeds up. Her bra's nice, sort of lacy and black, and he thinks there's no way she wears this every day, and that maybe she wore it because she was coming here, and he's hard, straining at his jeans, and oh god, she's taking off her bra and sitting on the bed, and her breasts are just, just, right there, in the bright ordinary unromantic light of his stupid room, along with Phyllis's penguin and the guitar he never plays, and Pam's sitting on the comforter he and his mom picked out at Bed, Bath and Beyond, and his brain is breaking, a little bit. Pam and the bed and their clothes piling up on the floor, next to the stain where he spilled orange soda and couldn't get it out of the carpet.
Pam reaches out and grabs him by the belt, pulls him until he's standing between her knees, bending down to kiss her, cupping the back of her neck with his hand, and then her hands are on his fly, unzipping his pants, hurrying, and she brushes his cock as she works his jeans down his hips, light accidental touches. He closes his eyes and for a second, he thinks about Roy, wherever he is, and feels an overwhelming rush of guilt, how Jim doesn't really have an excuse for this. But then Pam brushes his cock again and he forgets it, pushes her back onto the bed and goes to follow, half tripping over his pants, which are now twisted uncomfortably around his ankles. Pam giggles.
Jim makes a face at her and puts his finger over his lips. "Shhh," he says, pushing her into the pillows and kicking to try to get his jeans off. He finally has to sit up and do it right, and when he's got them off and looks back at Pam, she's lying back on his bed, quiet but still smiling, watching him, half-naked on top of his comforter with her hands resting on her stomach. He crawls up so he's lying beside her, propped up on his elbow, and he touches her skin again, her bare breast, and she breathes in. It's starting to feel familiar, kissing her, he's starting to know her body, how she moves, but this skin on skin, indoors, while everyone they know is downstairs, that's new.
He slides his hand into the waistband of her jeans, and she lifts her hips to help him get them off, and he hooks his finger into her underwear too, pulling them down along with her jeans, and they're both naked and this is the first time for that. He runs his hand up the outside of her thigh, then up the inside, and she shivers.
He wishes someone had turned the lights down, but it's a little late now, so it's just them in the bright glare, the zit on his chest, the freckles on her arms. She has a hickey on her neck and he can't remember if he gave it to her or not. As he's kissing her there, he's wondering if Roy gave it to her, if Roy was kissing her like this, and he's inexplicably a little harder thinking about it. He kisses her left nipple, grazes it with his teeth, slides a hand between her legs and she's wet because he's touching her, that hasn't gotten less surprising. Downstairs, a new song starts up, Justin Timberlake, and the party sounds far away, the low murmur of people talking, the bass line of the song the only part of the music that's clear. He fumbles at the drawer of his bedside table until he finds a condom, barely manages to grab it, stretching. He's hurrying too much, so that it takes him forever to rip the package open, and finally Pam takes it from him and gets it open in one smooth tear.
"Nice," Jim says, and she laughs.
"Roy can never get them open ei--," she starts to say, and then stops herself mid-word. In the silence, Jim can hear the wind pick up in the trees outside. "Sorry," Pam says, and she starts to sit up.
Jim puts his hand on her arm to stop her, and under his fingers her muscles are tense. "No, hey, it's cool," he says. He doesn't want her to leave, doesn't care about Roy, doesn't want her to think that he's taking this more seriously than it is. He doesn't mind if she mentions her fiancé -- it's not like he doesn't know that she has one. He really doesn't mind. "Really," he says. "I don't care."
Pam pushes some hair out of her face and looks over at him. "I didn't mean to -- "
He can't think of anything to say, so he kisses her in the middle of the sentence, stops her from saying anything else, and pushes her back onto the bed. As he takes the condom out of her hand, he kisses her behind the ear and surprises himself by saying, "Does Roy kiss you here?" His voice comes out low and rough and almost aggressive, and he doesn't know what he's getting at, but the thought of her and Roy, well. It's hard to stop thinking about. He scrapes his teeth across her skin and she shivers.
"Maybe," she says.
He has to pull back to put the condom on, and out of the corner of his eye, he can see her watching him, like she's trying to figure something out from his expression. He hopes if she comes up with his motivations, she'll let him know.
As he positions himself on top of her, he hears voices in the hallway, someone coming out of the bathroom at the same time someone else is coming up the stairs. Ryan and Kelly, maybe, and the door's so thin they can hear every word of the conversation, barely muffled.
Pam makes a face at him like, yikes, and Jim puts his finger across her lips. "Shhh," he whispers, and pushes inside her.
"Jim," she whispers, making a face at him for going ahead when people are right outside the door, and she moves, a little bit, adjusts to him. He shrugs at her, who cares, and holds still, and they're being very quiet.
"Oh my God, Ryan, have you seen the trailer for that Jake Gyllenhaal movie? I think it's about the Marines."
Ryan says something hard to catch and Jim starts moving, a slow glide, faster going in than out. Pam closes her eyes, her head pressing into the pillow. Her whole naked body is pressed up against his, her legs wrapped around his waist, skin to skin, and her breasts graze his chest.
"I know," Kelly says from outside. "I think Kanye is amazing. Like, without that song in the trailer there is no *way* I would even want to see a movie about the Gulf War. I mean, it's like our lamest war!"
Pam presses her face into Jim's shoulder and he can feel her smile against his skin. They're both breathing hard, and when Jim reaches down for her clit, Pam inhales sharply.
"Shhh," he whispers again. He thinks about Roy doing this, about how well Roy probably knows her body, about his own dick where Roy's has been, and god, this is so messed up. He starts to roll and Pam follows him, so she's on top, and he thinks maybe Roy doesn't do this so often, her on top. Or maybe he does, doesn't like to be the one doing all the work. Jim holds onto Pam's ass, pulls her hard onto him. The comforter of his bed is soft against his back, and she leans down to kiss him and it's sloppy and real and he gets her chin a little bit, and then she's moving faster and he's biting his lip to keep from making any noise. Her eyes are still closed, she's not looking at him at all, and he tries to remember all the details of this before it goes away, the expression on her face, the feel of her around him, the little sounds she makes when she's trying really hard to be quiet. He closes his eyes to focus; Ryan and Kelly are still talking outside, but it's hard to pay attention to what they're saying over the roaring in his ears, the sound of his own breathing. Pam's knees bump against his hips.
He's determined to make Pam come before he does, but he makes the mistake of opening his eyes again and looking at her face and it's too much, orgasm takes him by surprise, hits him in long slow waves. He bites the inside of his cheek on a groan and hates himself a little, but Pam keeps moving on top of him and he rolls his thumb against her clit and it's not long before she finishes, sighs out her breath in a whoosh. As she does, she finally looks at him, opens her eyes, and she has a strange expression on her face he can't quite read. She reaches out and touches his face, rests her fingertips along his jawline.
"You want to get another beer?" Ryan's saying outside the door when Jim can hear again, and Pam slides him out of her, moving to lie beside him, her head on his chest, her body pressed against his side. His bed's all mussed up, and he can see his sweater hanging on the corner of his dresser, where he'd thrown it earlier, and he thinks that he'll never get tired of touching Pam like this. He takes a chance and kisses the top of her head, but when he does she looks thoughtful and a little sad.
They hear Ryan and Kelly start to go down the stairs, and he doesn't want to move, ever, at all, but he knows that if they stay up here much longer, someone will notice they're missing, and they can't risk the cameras. He listens to the clock ticking and their breathing even out and wishes things were different.
"We better get back down there," Jim whispers after a decent interval.
"Yeah," Pam says. "I know." But she stays there for a second, her cheek against his chest, her hand on his stomach, and he's storing it all up, how her thumb is moving against his side, how her hair feels, the little bit of sweat sticking their bodies together. He'd thought maybe this would be the last time, that after this he'd have gotten over it, but now the thought of this being the end makes him feel a little panicky. Just once more -- one more time and he'll be done with it, he's positive. "Okay," she says, and she pushes herself up.
He starts collecting his clothes and they don't look at each other as they get dressed, underwear and jeans and shirts. He has to sit on the bed to put on his shoes and socks, and she sits next to him to do the same, and when he ties his last lace, he sees that she's just staring at the wall, looking sort of grim.
"You okay?" he says.
She starts, a little bit. "Hmm? Oh. Yeah. Of course." Then she glances over at him, does a double take and grins.
"What?" he says.
"Your hair's gone crazy," she says, and reaches out to smooth it down. She uses both hands to try to get it back to normal, combs through the front with her fingers, and he lets her.
"There," she says, when she's done. "Better."
He runs his hand over his head experimentally. Weirdly, her hair is fine and her clothes aren't even mussed, like nothing's happened.
As Jim reaches for the doorknob, Pam grabs his hand, laces her fingers through his. "Jim," she says, and pulls him down until he's close enough for her to kiss him, hard and a little desperate, like they might not get another chance. It's a little worrying.
"Okay," she says, when she pulls back, but she doesn't make eye contact, just moves to open the door.
"You go down first," Jim says, and she nods, slips out into the hallway.
He sits on his bed, the door half open, and counts to one hundred before he follows her.