"Hey, uh - can I talk to you about something?"
"About when you wanna give me more of your money?"
"Did you wanna do that now? We can go inside. I'm feelin' kinda good tonight."
"I was just, um." And Jim realizes, looking at her, that he could do it right now. Everyone is indoors and Roy is driving off now down the road, and it's dark and he can even see a few stars, and he could do it. He could.
He doesn't, though.
"I was talking to Jan, and - you know how last week I said I was in the city for a doctor's appointment?"
Pam nods and a little sag of concern settles into her face. "I meant to ask you about that -"
"Yeah, no, that's okay. 'Cause I wasn't really at the doctor, I was meeting with Jan."
Now she just looks confused. "Okay?"
"There's this opening in the Stamford branch for sales manager or something." He pauses, knowing he should go on, but he wants her to figure it out herself. He wants her to figure something out by herself, for once.
Pam's stopped playfully rocking back and forth on her heels. She's frowning. For a split second he hates himself - but then he remembers, this is my life. "So...what, you're going to Stamford?"
Jim nods, stares at her. She's the first to break eye contact.
"Oh." Pam looks over to her left, to the building, and he follows her gaze but there's nothing there. It's hard to see in the dark but he's almost positive there's something trembling in her face - her lip, her chin.
"I just thought you should know," he says lamely, looking at the ground.
Pam swallows and a little noise escapes her throat, so soft he can barely hear it. "I, yeah. Thanks for telling me," she says.
Jim's not sure what he expected. Not tears, not a declaration of love - but not nothing, either. "So, um -"
"I'm getting cold," she interrupts loudly. Then she wraps her arms around her middle, like she's clutching a phantom cardigan, and walks back towards the warehouse.
Jim goes back indoors and sits at the bar. He sees Pam hovering around the craps table, probably pretending to have an interest in Dwight's dice-rolling abilities. He forces his eyes away from her and onto his hands, folded on the counter. There's a papercut on his right index finger and he doesn't know where it came from, but he does sell paper, so, yeah.
Jim glances briefly to his right. "Hey Kev, how's it going."
Kevin grumbles a little, and Jim almost smiles despite himself. "Oh, but something awesome. Roy said Scrantonicity could play at him and Pam's wedding." Kevin nods slowly. "It's gonna rock. You should be there."
"Wow." Wow. Jim wonders what Pam will have to say about that. "That's...great. Sorry I can't make it." And in a way he kind of is; it would be interesting to see Pam's face when her wedding song turns out to be "Roxanne."
"Yeah." Kevin turns around for a second, then settles back and smiles at him. "Pam's looking pretty hot tonight."
Jim looks up at the ceiling. "Um, yeah. Listen, I think I'm gonna head out, so have a good night, okay?" He claps Kevin on the back and heads for the exit, and he can't resist glancing at Pam one more time. She's watching him. Jim ducks his head and pushes open the exit.
He makes it to his car, but once he's there he stops. If Jim goes home, he feels, it will all be final. This night feels open somehow - not hopeful, just open - and he doesn't want to shut any doors before he absolutely has to. So he walks slowly around the building, once, twice, three times, four times. On his fifth lap he sees a light flicker on in the office upstairs.
Taking the elevator from the empty lobby up to the empty hallway is unsettling in a way, but he sees a little bit of yellow light spilling out through the doorway and he walks in. Pam's sitting at his desk. He's being very quiet but she must hear his footsteps because she freezes and jerks her head towards him, eyes wide, like she's been caught in the middle of a criminal act. He stops, hands in pockets.
Finally Jim raises an eyebrow. "Cleaning out my desk already? I thought I'd have a few weeks before the vultures came out."
Pam closes the top drawer slowly. "That's not funny," she says softly, not meeting his eyes.
Jim shrugs, and pushes some folders aside to clear a space for himself. He settles onto the desk. His knee almost touches her elbow.
"I don't want you to go." She says this in a little voice, and Jim thinks he can just barely smell some alcohol on her, but her eyes are clear and he also smells cherries, so his best guess is that she's been sipping on Shirley Temples with Kelly.
He tries to smile at her, but he imagines it's more of a grimace. "Thanks."
"I mean it. I don't -" she stops; her voice is still high-pitched, and he knows it's because she's trying not to cry. He sort of wants her to cry - he's never seen her do that before, and after tonight he figures he won't have many chances.
"Well, I am. So." Almost immediately he regrets his tone - it's dismissive, it's a this conversation is over tone. He links his hands together, rubbing one thumb over the other, and stares hard at an imaginary spot on his pants.
"I don't know. It's a promotion. I don't have a house here. I don't have a girlfriend."
She doesn't answer and suddenly he just wants to keep talking; maybe some of his words will stick to her, draw her into him.
"There's nothing in Scranton that I couldn't have in Stamford."
"I'm not in Stamford."
He loves her. He loves her more than she knows, and if she gave the word he could stay. But sometimes being with Pam is the worst feeling in the world. "I don'thave you, Pam."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
Jim shrugs, feeling slightly nauseated. They're coming close to something here, almost as close as he came out in the parking lot, but he's not going to press it. He's just...not.
"I don't get you," she says. And something in him snaps.
A paperclip jabs into his thigh when he slides off the desk but he hardly notices. "Yeah well, I don't get you sometimes." Jim strides to the door but stops at the corner and looks back at her. "Y'know, Roy told Kevin tonight that his band could play at the wedding. I'm pretty sure you weren't in on that decision, but apparently it's going to rock." He raises an eyebrow for emphasis, feels a split-second of panic knowing that he's probably just fucked over any minute chance that he's ever had with Pam, and leaves.
The door is officially closed, Jim thinks, but he doesn't think he's quite ready to drive home yet.
A Tom Petty mix that his brother made him last fall is playing, he's got his eyes closed and the seat back and damn. Life sucks. And maybe it'll get better in Stamford, but maybe it'll get worse, or be the same, and now he doesn't want to think about it anyway. He remembers the music video for this song that he saw on VH1 back when it still played music videos and tries to think about Tom Petty in Wonderland instead.
Then someone knocks on the window. He rolls it down. It's dark, but he can see that it's Pam.
She presses her lips together and breathes in through her nose, hard. "I'm still deciding on some things." Her mouth twitches like she wants to say more, but nothing comes.
He can't speak. He watches her walk away for the second time that night, fading into the dark.
Jim goes to bed with his windows open that night, and hopes.