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Title: Can't Go Back
Author: shan21non ([livejournal.com profile] shan21non )
Pairing: Jim/Pam
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: I don't own any of it.
Summary: A Post-Benihana Christmas fic!  Remember when Jim and Pam convinced Dwight that a CIA helicopter would pick him up on the roof?  Well, neither of them could resist showing up that night to see the prank to its conclusion.

Chapter 1:  The Setup

 

Chapter 2: The Chase  

 

“Pam, there’s no time,” he says urgently. He let’s go of her hand and leans back in his seat, feeling a bit breathless.  “We’ve got to go.  Now.”  

Without another word, he twists the key in the ignition and the engine roars to life.  It takes Pam a second to snap out of her daze. 

“But my car!” she says, pointing at her Yaris. 

“You’ll never get back to your car and pull out before Dwight comes out that front door,” Jim says reasonably, flipping on his headlights and shifting the car into gear. 

“But he’ll see my car in the parking lot and he’ll know I was here!” Pam protests, but she’s fastening her seatbelt as she speaks. 

“Maybe.  But that’s a chance we’ll have to take,” Jim says, locking eyes with her once more before he jams on the gas pedal. 

The car makes that burning rubber noise that all cars make in action movies, and Jim can’t help the rush of adrenaline it gives him.  He peeks in the rear view mirror just in time to see Dwight emerge from the building. 

“Wow.  I feel like a badass,” he admits, feeling goofy but not really caring.  This is Pam with him.  Why should he feel embarrassed? 

“Because your tires squealed?” Pam asks. 

“Yeah!” he says, perfectly aware that he sounds like a teenage boy. 

Such a dork,” Pam teases him. 

He looks over at her briefly and thinks again about how much he has missed this.  They drive for a minute in silence, but when they’re stopped at a red light, Pam speaks. 

“So Thelma, where are we going?” she asks. 

“You couldn’t have come up with a cooler driving duo than Thelma and Louise?” Jim says with mock disgust. 

“Where are we going… Starsky?” she tries. 

Jim makes a show of contemplating this new option, bringing his hand up to stroke an imaginary beard. 

“Worse,” he says decisively. 

He’s just stalling, really, because it’s clear that they could just loop back around to the parking lot.  Dwight is probably gone by now.  But Pam hasn’t suggested this and he doesn’t want to either, despite the fact that he knows he should.   

Karen.  Karen.  Karen.  He tries to repeat this mantra in his head, but it doesn’t work at all, not with Pam looking at him expectantly from his passenger seat. 

“We could go to Poor Richards,” he says finally. 

Pam nods approvingly. 

“For a victory drink,” she says. 

“I’ll even buy since I’m a jerk and didn’t get you a present,” Jim offers. 

“Oooh, so you’re getting me booze for Christmas?  I’m sorry, are you confusing me with Meredith?” Pam asks sarcastically.  She is trying to look offended, but all he can think is, God, she looks adorable. 

“Never,” he says.  They share a look and she must know that he’s thinking that he could never confuse her with anyone, because she’s Pam.  It feels a little too real, a little too intense so Jim does what he does best.  He makes a joke. 

“If I confuse you with anyone, it’s always Creed,” he says. 

The mood is broken and she snorts with laughter. 

“I get that a lot,” she replies.  

He parks outside Poor Richards and he can’t resist guiding her into the pub with his hand hovering over her lower back, just barely touching her.  They sit at a table close to the bar and decide to split some fries since Pam only had a salad for dinner and Jim can always go for fries. 

“I’ll order the fries and get our drinks,” he says, getting up from the table.  “What do you want? Wait, let me guess...” He pauses for effect.  “Something really girly and fruity.” 

He thinks of second drinks and spontaneous kisses before he can stop himself. 

“Rum and coke, thank you very much,” Pam says haughtily, arching her eyebrow in an Angela-esque way. 

“Wow, Pam. A grown up drink,” he replies. 

He turns to walk over to the bar, when Pam’s voice stops him. 

“Oh, but uh, make the rum the coconut flavored stuff,” she adds. 

He turns back to her and she’s trying to hide her smile. 

“And there it is,” Jim says in his best ‘I told you so’ tone. 

Pam just sticks out her tongue at him and Jim has to try hard to refocus his thoughts on Karen and how he loves that she drinks plain vodka martinis and other non-girly drinks. 

They sip their drinks and Pam admits that she already feels guilty about Dwight’s phone.  Jim gapes at her when tells him she’ll probably buy him a replacement. 

“Just a cheap one!” she insists.  “Maybe I’ll just buy a used one on Amazon.  I mean, his girlfriend is going to want to be able to call him.” 

Jim rolls his eyes. 

“Dwight does not have a girlfriend,” he says. 

“Oh, he does,” Pam says with conviction. 

Jim reels back a bit at this. 

“Wait a minute.  Pam, do you know the identity of Dwight’s mystery girlfriend?  Are you telling me that she’s not just a figment of Dwight’s imagination?” Jim asks incredulously. 

“She is definitely not imaginary,” Pam says.  “But as for her identity… That is classified information.” 

Jim squints, trying to read her. 

“Come on, Beesly.  You have to tell me,” Jim pleads. 

“No way.  Subject change,” she replies resolutely. 

Jim reluctantly moves on and tells Pam about Michael and how he had to mark his girlfriend’s arm to tell her apart from the other Benihana waitress and Pam is appropriately amused. 

Jim reaches for his beer to take another swig, when suddenly Pam’s hand is covering his.  His heart immediately starts working double time, and his eyes shoot up to meet hers with a questioning stare.  What is she doing? 

“Dwight!” she whispers sharply.   

His eyebrows shoot upwards, but he quickly recovers. 

“No, Pam,” he says slowly, as thought he is speaking to a small child.  “It’s Jim.  Jiiiim.” 

She glares at him, clearly not buying his confusion. 

“He’s coming over to the bar,” she says, looking over his shoulder. 

He starts to turn his head, and she grips his hand harder.  “Don’t turn around!  Just keep looking this way.” 

Pam lifts her menu so that it blocks her entire face, but she still has one hand on Jim’s, which is… well, he doesn’t know what to think of that.  It’s possible that she just forgot to remove it. 

“Fuzzy navel on the rocks,” says a familiar voice, and Jim hears Pam snort from behind her menu.  

He squeezes her hand briefly as a substitute for that, ‘Oh my god, did you just hear that?!’ expression that they have perfected.  She squeezes back. 

Jim hears a glass clink loudly on the bar and Dwight’s voice calls out, “Give me another!  You know what, just bring me the bottle!”  When the bartender starts to explain that he doesn’t have a giant bottle of pre-mixed fuzzy navels, Pam completely loses it.   

At first he sees her shoulders shake.  Soon he hears breathy little giggles emerge from behind the menu.  Finally, the menu slides from her hand altogether and she brings both hands up to her face, covering her mouth desperately. 

Jim would be more amused if he wasn’t slightly disappointed that she let go of his hand. 

“Pam!” Dwight calls out. 

Jim whispers, ‘Busted!’ and she tries to compose herself. 

“Dwight,” she says, nodding at him. 

Jim turns around at this point because the jig is up, really. 

“Hi Dwight,” he says casually. 

“Jim!” Dwight sputters, getting to his feet and walking toward their table. 

“What brings you here, Dwight?” Pam asks civilly. 

“That information is privileged,” Dwight says defensively. 

Jim turns back to Pam to give her one of his looks.  When he turns back to the bar, Dwight looks like something has just occurred to him. 

“Pam, I saw your car in the Dunder-Mifflin parking lot.  What were you doing there, and what are you doing here now?” he demands. 

“I was… I—” Pam stutters, looking desperately at Jim. 

“Do you or do you not own a blue Toyota Yaris hatchback?” Dwight presses, his voice getting louder. 

Pam opens her mouth but no sound comes out, so Jim takes his cue. 

“It’s okay, Pam,” Jim says, placing his hand over hers again.  Just part of the act, he assures himself.  “Dwight, Pam was having a hard time.  Personally.  She called me up, we met at work, and I drove her here so that we could talk.” 

Dwight pauses to look Pam over like he’s sizing her up.  Pam helps out by nodding sadly and gripping Jim’s hand a little tighter. 

“What’s wrong with her?” Dwight demands. 

That is private,” Jim shoots back. 

“I am a licensed crisis counselor, Jim,” Dwight sneers. 

“Interesting.  Can I see your license?” Jim asks. 

Dwight looks momentarily flustered. 

“I… don’t have it on me,” he recovers. 

Pam squints at him, and then addresses Jim. 

“I think impersonating a licensed crisis counselor is a felony,” she says conversationally.  Perfect, Jim thinks. 

“No it’s not,” Dwight says quickly, but he sounds nervous. 

“He’s right Pam.  It’s a misdemeanor,” Jim says. 

“Ohhhh, right,” Pam says, tilting her head back as if remembering this fact. 

He loves this.  They’re back to normal.  A team.  She sets it up for him and he hits it out of the park.  They just work so well together. 

“Okay, I couldn’t pass the test, but that’s only because it is a flawed exam.  Too much emphasis on listening and comfort,” Dwight says with obvious disgust.  “My Uncle Wilhelm used to just grab us by the shoulders and scream as loudly as he could directly in our faces.  It’s called scream therapy, and it works.  My cousin Greta never wet the bed again.” 

“I’m pretty sure that in scream therapy, the person who needs the therapy does the screaming, not the—” Jim starts. 

“Well that shows how much you know, Jim!  Idiot,” Dwight interrupts. 

“Dwight, it’s nothing personal,” Pam says.  “It’s just that Jim is my best friend and you are… Dwight,” she says, trailing off into a near whisper toward the end of her sentence. 

“False,” Dwight balks. 

“Oh, so you not only lied about having your counseling license, but now you’re telling us your real name isn’t even Dwight?” Jim says, shaking his head in disapproval. 

“No!  Simpleton,” Dwight snaps.  “Pam, Jim is not your best friend.  You hardly even talk.” 

It’s absolutely awful, the silence that ensues.   

Jim feels as though the entire bar has ceased speaking just to watch them.  He feels Pam’s hand slip out of his and his stomach sinks.  Count on Dwight to say the exact wrong thing. 

“All the same, I’d rather not undergo scream therapy.  Thank you for your concern,” she says quietly, not looking at either of them. 

“Suit yourself.  But when you realize that Jim is an incompetent buffoon, I will be here with my vocal cords primed and ready,” Dwight retorts before moving back into his seat at the bar. 

The waitress comes over with their fries and Pam picks idly at one of them before sighing deeply. 

“I’m really not hungry.  Maybe we should just go,” she says. 

Jim feels his heart leap into his throat.  Today shouldn’t end this way.  Things were so great.  Almost like they were before. 

“No wait. You haven’t even finished your drink,” Jim says desperately, gesturing at her half-empty Malibu and coke. 

“Yeah, well if I finish it then I’ll just have to wait longer before I can drive home,” she replies reasonably. 

Jim doesn’t know why he is so panicked all of a sudden.  He just knows that tonight something important is going to happen.  

“Good. It’ll give us time to talk,” he says.   

There is a brief pause and she just looks at him.  She wants to know what they’re going to talk about, he can tell.  She’s nervous and upset and tugging at her necklace like she does whenever she’s feeling that way. 

“Pam, please,” he says. 

She takes another sip of her drink, which he thinks is a good sign.  He’s literally holding his breath when she finally looks at him and speaks.

 

“Okay.  What do you want to talk about?” 


Chapter 3:  Rising Action
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shan21non

October 2010

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