they are everywhere together, and it makes jim want to cry but also throw a water bottle at them.
kelly and ryan are inseparable, they walk with each other to the water cooler, to the printer, to the break room. they are attached at the hip, no matter how much they complain about each other.
jim, like everyone else, is confused about their relationship. they’re on, they’re off, they’re on, she’s pregnant, they’re off, they’re on, it was a fake pregnancy.
he doesn’t know who has it harder, jim, who’s been into ryan since he walked into the office and has been dropping hints all around ryan, who doesn’t seem to understand, or kelly and ryan, who are just as confused as everyone else about their feelings and relationship status.
right now, ryan and kelly are by the printer, ryan leans on the printer while whispering to her and actually, ryan looks really good right now, with his messy dark hair that jim wants to run his hands through, and his sweater---could you like, stop? just for one second. please, let me live. he thinks to himself, cutting off his own train of thought.
a strand of ryan’s hair falls in his face and ryan runs a hand through his hair to fix it. jim makes a soft high pitched noise while still staring at his computer screen.
“jim?” pam turns her head at him. oh, right. people can also hear his screaming.
“what’s up?” jim stops high pitched screaming. he turns to pam and rests his chin on a fist, looking as though he wasn’t screaming a moment ago.
“are you okay?” she looks concerned, and wow, jim really appreciates his best friend.
“no,” he mumbles and turns back to his computer.
“how are you feeling?”
“dunno,” he sounds quiet, almost scared but his blood is beginning to boil when he sees kelly laugh at something ryan said, jealousy stirs at him and it threatens him to do something about ryan and kelly. but it’s not jim’s place.
“‘m jealous,” he says, biting on his fist.
pam turns around to see kelly making ryan laugh.
jim really likes it when ryan laughs, his laugh is really cute and soft and jim would love to make him laugh.
“aw, is my little jimmy jealous of ryan?” she teases in a toddler voice.
jim chokes. “jealous of ryan?”
pam looks confused. “yeah? you like kelly, right?”
jim stares into the camera.
“no,” he mouths at pam.
she knows jim’s bisexual, so it shouldn’t be a surprise but she says, “ryan? really, jim? out of everyone in this office, ryan howard?” she doesn’t look impressed.
“what?” jim can’t believe she doesn’t see what he sees in ryan. “he’s hot. like, really hot.” he says, bluntly.
“do you only like him because he’s hot?” pam air quotes hot.
“no…” jim can feel a Ryan Moment™ building up, where for a solid seven minutes, all jim talks about is ryan. “i like,” jim pauses. “everything about ryan.”
jim mentally sighs. good save, halpert. once he gets going about ryan, he doesn’t stop.
pam sees the dopey smile on jim’s face and how he isn’t look at pam but at the ceiling, as if it held all the answers. “that’s...great. that’s great, jim.”
“yeah,” he answers. “he’s not interested in me, though.”
“well, kelly and him aren’t dating.” pam pauses. “right now.” she adds, looking a little guilty.
jim snorts and he watches ryan and kelly go back to the annex.
jim walks into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, he couldn’t sleep last night and ended up marathoning sense8.
the coffee brews and jim leans on the counter. he is right in front of ryan’s office door.
it would be so easy to walk in there and just...kiss ryan. it’d be simple. it would be simple to walk in there and tell ryan how he really felt instead of performing this dance for an audience they cannot see. jim loves the concept of this dance, but he is tired and he just wants to confess and be done.
he also wants to keep his pride. he’ll see ryan everyday at the office, from monday to friday, nine to five. he can’t escape.
a few minutes later, jim stirs cream into his coffee when he hears talking in ryan’s office. his mind instantly goes to kelly.
how could jim not notice them for the past ten minutes? what an idiot.
jim stops stirring and he has a thought that is morally questioning, but he steps closer to ryan’s office door and listens into their conversation.
“ryan, you should totally ask her out.”
“she’ll reject me!”
“daisy is totally into you.”
who is the hell is daisy? ryan has seen jim everyday for four years and yet? jim can't even get ryan’s attention, much less his love. ryan trades jim out for a girl jim’s never even heard of and jim is so tired and angry of this game. he wants ryan but ryan never wants him back.
maybe jim deserves ryan more than daisy, he was here first, and ryan is his, and she can't do that! she can't just make ryan fall for her and leave jim in the dust.
he steps away from the door and takes his coffee mug back out to his desk.
“where’s the ghost? kitchen?” dwight snorts, when he sees jim.
“why don’t you go check? i think it went to the women’s bathroom.” he says, without much snark, jim is just so tired, functioning on one cup of coffee, zero hours of sleep, and the knowledge that ryan is going to ask out some girl named daisy.
at least he doesn’t have to deal with kelly, whenever he wants to make a move on ryan. (he won't, he doesn't deserve ryan)
the office goes to poor richard’s and jim cleverly steals the stool next to ryan.
he doesn't really know what his own intentions are, maybe a conversation, a kiss if he’s lucky?
but luck has it out for him, since a pretty blonde named molly has the stool next to ryan and there's some not very friendly tension going on and jim looks at the camera.
apparently daisy didn't work out.
“so um, molly, where do you work?” ryan says, and his awkward flirting is somehow really cute to jim, because jim smiles behind his glass of tequila and ryan is just endearing.
she takes the hair tie out of her hair and lets her blonde hair fall down her shoulders and she flips her hair for extra effect. “the salon up the road.”
it doesn’t really work on jim but ryan, on the other hand, is mesmerized. “that’s-that’s cool.”
jim rolls his eyes. he lifts the glass back to his lips and finds out there’s no liquid left. disappointing.
molly puts a hand on ryan’s thigh and jim is fuming. he glares at her but she doesn’t look at jim.
“so,” she starts. uh oh, be prepared to be pissed off, jim thinks to himself. “do you want to go back to my--”
“MR. ALCOHOL MAN, I WOULD LIKE TWO DOUBLE TEQUILAS.” jim shouts at the poor bartender on the other side of the bar. jim would feel bad if he didn’t complete his goal, which was to stop molly from bringing ryan back to her home and it totally worked so, jim doesn’t feel that bad.
the bartender goes over and pours jim four tequila shots and moves on to the next customer.
ryan turns around to see jim, as if he hadn’t notice jim at all, which jim wouldn’t doubt, and he says, “oh, hey jim!”
jim looks into the camera, let me die already, is his only thought.
“you didn’t know i was here?” jim frowns. he sees molly glare at jim and he guesses that’s a win. when molly gets up to move on to her next victim, jim counts that as a definite win.
“no, sorry.” ryan seems a little upset that jim is upset and jim is quick to fix that.
“it’s no problem!” jim says, even though it is a problem. he takes a shot.
drinking game: take a shot every time you want to die during this conversation, jim thinks.
“how many drinks have you had?” ryan looks concerned and jim really wants to kiss ryan’s frown and he wants to fix ryan’s hair and ryan’s lips look very inviting.
jim doesn’t kiss ryan. “um, i dunno?” he looks at the shot glasses. “more than four.” jim laughs at his own joke.
ryan laughs softly and jim finds it really cute. “did you drive here by yourself?”
“yeah,” jim looks at ryan’s eyes and they’re really pretty. he has slight bags under his eyes but he seems okay. for the most part.
“do you want me to drive you home?” ryan offers, because jim is his friend and he wouldn’t let a friend drive home drunk.
“yeah, that’d be nice,” jim grins. if molly hadn’t already left, ryan wouldn’t go home with her anyway.
“okay, buddy, let’s get you home.” ryan slides off the stool and he forgets about molly because he doesn’t look behind him to check on her. he drapes jim’s jacket over his shoulders and wraps an arm around jim’s waist.
jim takes this as ‘touching is okay’ and he puts an arm around ryan’s neck after putting his jacket on. ryan’s coat is slung over his shoulder and ryan smiles at him as he guides jim to his car.
both of them aren’t that sure how drunk jim is, but jim forgets about it and asks ryan, “how will you get home?”
ryan’s mouth goes, “oh.” as if he hadn’t thought about it. “um, erin and i drove here together and it’s my car but um, i’ll take yours and take you home and i can ask erin to pick me up?”
ryan driving jim home is actually more hassle than jim thought. whoops. “sorry,” he mumbles.
“it’s okay,” ryan smiles. “anything for a friend.”
jim looks at the camera. just a friend, nothing more. “thanks, really ‘preciate it, ry.”
“really ‘preciate you, ry.” jim mumbles softly.
“didn’t catch the last part, sorry?” ryan is so happy and positive and jim just brings him down with his self-loathing.
“didn’t say anything.” jim gets into the passenger seat and he’s close to passing out.
ryan sits in the driver’s and he says, “do you have the keys?”
jim leans his head against the window and reaches into his pocket and gives it to ryan.
“thanks.” ryan smiles.
jim realizes ryan doesn’t have jim’s address and jim hopes that somehow ryan knows.
“what’s your address?” spoke too soon.
jim yawns. “70 river valley.”
“that’s a nice place, i used to go to the river there all the time.”
now, listen, jim would love to hear ryan talk any other time but jim’s drunk and he might do something he’d regret, (would he really regret it, though?) and he just wants to go home and watch a movie and fall asleep to the thought of ryan during the movie.
jim makes a sound of agreement and ryan notices he wasn’t wearing his seatbelt.
“hey, drunkie, put your seatbelt on.” ryan has started the car but he won’t drive until jim puts his seatbelt on, but jim’s limbs are pudding and he’s almost falling asleep to ryan’s smell and the warm air of the heater in the car.
“‘m too tired.” jim notices in the rearview mirror that his hair's a mess. he could not care less. he closes his eyes before he hears rustling and suddenly this becomes too real.
jim’s eyes are still closed but he’s not very tired anymore. ryan hovers over jim, jim feels ryan’s breath on his cheek and this is stupidly intimate.
ryan carefully tilts jim’s head and gets the seat belt and tilts jim’s head to the window again. jim hears the seat belt click and ryan thinks jim is sleeping.
jim can’t sleep, now. he slowly opens his eyes but he doesn’t move his head, side eyeing ryan. ryan just drives, he doesn’t look really weird about the seat belt thing, in fact, he’s softly mouthing around to the radio--something about pills in ibiza.
it’s really cute-- he’s really cute, his hair is messed up, slick with sweat from the bar, his tie is a little crooked, he mouths the words to the song and he’s so happy in this moment, jim can’t help but turn his head to face ryan a little bit.
a few minutes later, with jim falling in and out of sleep several times, they stop at the front of jim’s house.
“your stop, sleepy.” ryan really likes calling jim nicknames, apparently, and it’s very cute.
“okay. park the car like,” jim gestures to his garage. “somewhere there.”
ryan laughs. “i’ll walk you?”
“that’d be nice.” jim smiles. this kind of feels like a date. except jim’s drunk.
jim gets out of the car and stumbles a little, which ryan responds with, “easy, tiger.”
they walk to jim’s bedroom, which isn’t really that suggestive or eventful, except the occasional fall from jim.
jim takes off his tie and throws it somewhere and falls into his bed. his face is towards the ceiling and he says to ryan, “thanks, ry.”
“it’s no problem, really.” ryan’s smile is stunning.
ryan walks away, towards the door before jim yells after him, “wait, ryan!”
ryan turns around, “yeah, jimmy?”
jim’s heart goes ‘!!!!!’ at jimmy but he says, “i have something to tell you.”
ryan frowns at the seriousness and takes a step towards him. jim continues.
ryan looks at him.
“i like you.” jim sighs. this is it, the moment of truth. does ryan like him? does he not? jim feels like he’ll regret this in the morning but he just needs an answer, truthfully. one answer and ryan can be gone and jim will go to bed.
“i like you too!” ryan smiles.
jim’s eyes go wide. ryan likes him! thank you, gods of the gays.
“you’re like the best salesman at dunder mifflin! and you’re really nice too, any girl would be lucky to have you.”
- that’s what he meant. of course, ryan thought of it like that. ryan, innocent, sweet, straight, ryan. jim can’t really feel bitter or angry that ryan caught it. at least there’s no hard feelings, right? jim feels upset because he bottled his feelings for ryan, let them age like a fine wine for four years, and when he opens the cork, it’s like jim just found out ryan didn’t drink. rude.
“i’m bisexual.” is all jim says. he really wants to go to bed now.
“me too!” ryan smiles, he’s very energetic and jim is exhausted.
“okay, cool. thanks for the ride.” jim feels his eyes falling closed.
ryan gives jim one last smile and walks out the door, closing it gently.
jim’s last thought before falling asleep is something about how precious ryan is.
pam is about to go on maternly leave and her replacement is a pretty girl named cathy.
pam is leaning on the reception desk while cathy finishes up with her computer.
is jim jealous? yes and no.
yes, jim is absolutely jealous because pam is happily married to the love of her life, who also works in this office. (karen) and jim is not married to the love of his life, who also works in this office. (ryan)
no, jim isn’t jealous at all because he hears that being pregnant hurts, like, a lot, and now she and her wife has to take care of a screaming tiny human. doesn’t seem very fun. also, despite contrary belief, jim doesn’t like pam. sure, they’re best friends but they’re both attracted to the same gender. pam is married. jim really, really likes ryan.
cathy is quite nice, she’s quiet and pretty and she likes zootopia and jim likes her. (no, not the ryan type of ‘like,’ he means platonic, ‘i would like to be friends with you,’ type of ‘like.’)
she gets up from her desk and sorts her papers out. “there you go!”
pam walks over to her desk and sits down. “thank you, cathy.”
cathy smiles and walks away.
jim is okay for about thirty seconds, when ryan leans over him and asks, “any chance she’s single?”
“nope,” jim says, too quickly. “probably has a boyfriend. maybe engaged.”
“ah, right.” ryan walks away.
jim looks back to his computer and doesn’t bat an eye at pam.
“hey,” she whispers after a few seconds. jim doesn’t look.
“jim,” she says. jim turns around at her.
“why do you think she’s engaged?” pam has a smile on her face and jim wants to scream.
“i dunno, she’s pretty.” jim says, trying to keep his voice as steady as possible.
“what if ryan was dating her?”
jim looks over to the camera. he sighs. “i would not enjoy that.”
“you know why.”
she gasps. “jim! you like cathy?”
“no.” he says. pam isn’t letting him go until he says it, isn’t she?
“then why don’t you want ryan dating cathy? they’d be a good couple.”
jim sighs, then he smiles softly. “you know who would be a good couple? me and ryan.”
pam smiles at jim and she turns back to her paperwork. “just wanted you to say it, that’s all.” then she adds, “are you jealous?”
“if ryan asked out cathy, would you be jealous?”
jim looks at her with a Look, and he says, “what type of question is that? of course i would.”
and that’s the end of that conversation.
the office holds ryan’s fourth dundies at chili's. classy, right?
jim has a plate of cheese fries and a full glass of iced tea in front of him. he sits next to pam, obviously, and karen is next to pam.
jim doesn’t really look at them, because he knows they’ll be doing Gross Couple Things. (that jim wants to do with ryan)
pam wins a dundie for whitest keds and karen wolf whistles at her and jim laughs. karen and pam are so laid back, so refreshing and they’re in love and jim is the third wheel. excellent.
“hottest in the office,” michael announces.
everyone knows it’ll go to ryan and jim likes having the opportunity to stare at ryan for a good minute without being bothered.
ryan gets up and the office starts clapping. jim smiles a little bit and no one notices. he doesn’t care.
“um,” ryan takes the award. “i appreciate that you guys, um, appreciate how i look all the time. fashion is very important to me.”
jim smiles behind his glass. his smile drops when he hears someone wolf whistle.
“oh um, thanks, erin.” ryan says.
jim’s brain is currently going, ?????????????????? um, excuse me??? ryan is mine, thank you very much.
jim ignores the ache in his heart and glares daggers into erin’s back. no one notices, no one cares. old news.
he growls softly and jim looks so angry and jealous.
hottest in the office belongs to jim. hottest in the office only belongs to jim.
ryan walks back down and erin gives him a high five and jim’s anger fades into sadness.
why can’t ryan ever notice jim? jim’s been right in front of ryan for so long and ryan just ignores jim and looks for love in all the wrong places. ryan isn’t even remotely interested.
in the middle of jim’s self-pity episode, someone taps jim’s shoulder.
he turns to the person and he’s greeted with an very, very attractive guy.
“are you okay?” the man asks, with a british accent. he is beautiful , jim thinks. he has blue eyes and hours of sleepless nights converted to heavy bags under his eyes and he has messy chocolate hair and a jawline sharper than a knife and what has jim done in his life to deserve looking at a person so wonderful?
“not really,” jim says.
“what’s your name?” he asks, and jim feels like he’ll be seeing a lot more of this guy.”
“mason, mason sprouse.” mason smiles and it makes jim forget about everything he was thinking about before he met mason.
“nice to meet you, jimmy,”
jim thinks about that time ryan drove him home and called him jimmy, but he just says, “right back at you, sprouse.”
they sit through the dundies laughing at michael and talking about hockey and music and maybe jim deserves to be happy without ryan.
plus one: mason.
the first birthday after the dundies was the party jim was going to introduce his friends to mason, his boyfriend.
coincidentally, the first birthday party after the dundies was ryan’s.
jim didn’t intentionally plan it out on ryan’s birthday, but when he realizes, he doesn’t bring it up to mason.
mason can’t know, not yet. not when the wound and the hurt is still fresh.
jim stands next to oscar, sipping vodka and orange juice.
he sees ryan talking to kelly and he doesn’t really feel the anger or the jealousy anymore and he calls that progress.
jim walks out the conference room and sets his drink down and someone is kissing his cheek.
“hey, j.” mason softly says.
jim turns around and presses a kiss to mason’s hair. “hello.”
“you ready?” mason toys with jim’s tie.
“i was born ready.” jim laughs.
mason walks into the conference room, jim on his heels.
“hello! jim, you didn’t tell me we were having a guest!” michael says, and he catches everyone’s attention so jim doesn’t have to.
“um, everyone,” jim puts his hands on mason’s shoulders. “this is my boyfriend,” jim smiles. “mason.”
“hello, gang.” mason smiles and he waves to everyone.
phyllis goes to mason and jim, and just like that, the party goes back to normal.
“how long have you guys been together?” she asks.
“two months, since the dundies.” jim says, over mason’s head.
“aww, bob and i met,” phyllis goes on to the story of how she and bob vance, vance refrigeration met, a story everyone in the office has heard a million times.
mason could not care less, but he nods politely and jim smiles at him and goes for his hand.
a few minutes later, mason and jim are in their own little corner.
“so, this is where i work. what do you think?” jim smiles.
“i like the majority, pam and karen seem lovely, oscar seems like a successful man, that ryan character really knows his fashion, kelly is quite...what’s the word?”
mason finger guns jim. “yes, energetic. though there’s one person in this office who really catches my eye,” mason smiles.
“oh, really? who?” jim smiles and feigns innocence.
“i’ll tell you his name later, but he’s really cute, and tall.” mason leans up and jim meets him halfway.
mason kisses sweetly and he tastes like maple and he reminds jim of walking through the woods, of fresh air. (there is something missing from mason’s kisses, a warmth that is both unfamiliar and familiar to jim. he doesn’t acknowledge it.)
jim doesn’t compare mason to ryan. jim does not feel jealous anymore, he is content with mason and he never really thought he would be happy with anyone other than ryan, who unintentionally hurts jim, over and over again. jim forgives and he hopes ryan is happy, too.
jim does not notice ryan running out of the room when he sees jim and mason. jim does not notice ryan burning with jealousy and anger and everything jim’s felt for ryan for the past four years.