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10 August 2007 @ 05:25 am
August Challenge - Fairytale - The Office - Pam; Jim/Pam - PG  
Title: Fairytale
Author: Cassandra Mulder
Rating: PG
Classification: The Office; Pam; Jim/Pam
Disclaimer: Painfully, regrettably, irrefutably not mine. No infringement is intended.
Spoilers: Casino Night
Summary: The day she decided it was over, it was like the world had fallen in around her and no one else noticed.
Written: August 7 - 10, 2007
Word Count: 4370
Written for: melodicmuse
Prompt/lyric: Fairytale by Sara Bareilles

So I sing and hold my head down
And I break these walls 'round me
Can't take no more of your fairytale love

'Cause I don't care for your fairytales
You're so worried 'bout the maiden
Though you know she's only waiting
On the next best thing


A/N: When I first heard this song, for some reason I thought of Pam. I wanted to do a fic for it for awhile, but other pieces got in the way, so when I made Sara Bareilles this month's challenge, it seemed like the perfect time. I had already laid a lot of the groundwork in my head, all I had to do was write it. There's a definite theme here, but I didn't force it so I left it in. I haven't seen a great deal of fic dealing with what it must have been like for Pam after Casino Night, considering what season three made it clear she had had to do. So this is her story, and I hope I have done it some kind of justice. If you like it, remember, feedback is love! ♥

***



The day she decided it was over, it was like the world had fallen in around her and no one else noticed. It was dark and she felt like she might suffocate. It was a Wednesday, and Jim had never come back to work after the previous Friday’s Casino Night.

In a rare show of compassion, Michael had told her privately that Jim was transferring to the Stamford branch. She wondered if it was solely for her benefit, or because he wanted to vent his grief about Jim leaving.

Whatever his reasons for telling her first, she was grateful for the knowledge when he made the announcement to the entire office twenty minutes later. At least three-quarters of her co-workers were looking at her after, and she just pretended she had urgent e-mails to answer so she could easily avoid their eyes.

She was quiet for the rest of the day, and she tried to formulate a plan of action. She knew now she could never marry Roy, and she knew for certain that he wasn’t going to take it well.

She figured the best thing to do would be to wait until Friday and go home early and pack some things. Then she would wait for Roy to get home, tell him, and go to her mother’s for the weekend; maybe a day or two more if she could swing it. She had used all of her vacation days, but she had all of her sick days if they became necessary.

For the next thirty-six hours she was a wreck, alternating between confidence in her decision, and doubting the wisdom of it. She wanted to hunt Jim down and scream at him for leaving her all alone to deal with the damage he had caused, even as she never wanted to speak to him again. She was scared and she was sad, and she wasn’t sure she was strong enough to execute her plan. All she knew was she had to try because she couldn’t go on living a life she didn’t want anymore.

She was withdrawn as she struggled with restructuring her life, and Roy never noticed there was anything wrong. The realization helped to strengthen her resolve, but it was still going to be hard for her. She wondered if she just left without telling him if he would even notice she was gone.

She silently cried herself to sleep on Thursday night, and Friday morning she called her mother to make sure it was okay for her to stay for a few days. She knew she was always welcome, but she wanted to be sure they would be there when she arrived. She didn’t want to specify the reasons for her visit because she was trying to hold it together until she could get out the door that night.

She made it to work and tried to smile and laugh with her co-workers, but they were still treating her with the kid gloves they had all sported since Jim left. She was starting to wonder how transparent the miserable saga that was her life really was to everyone else, and why what was apparently so obvious hadn’t been all that obvious from her point of view.

They were all being exceptionally kind, except for Dwight, who made it a habit to narrow his eyes and smile at her evilly. All he cared about was the fact that his much smarter desk mate was long gone.

When he went to the restroom that afternoon, she broke two ink pens and poured the ink into his full coffee cup.

He was still smirking at her with blackened teeth when she left at three o’clock with Michael’s permission. She was just sad she wouldn’t be there to smirk back when he finally found his way in front of a mirror.

When she got home, she hurriedly packed two suitcases with her best clothes and put them in the trunk of her car. Then she went about gathering irreplaceable things that meant something to her - photo albums, sketchbooks and a few art supplies, keepsakes, jewelry - and put them in the backseat of her car.

If Roy got drunk and burned the house down when she left, she was not going to lose her things. She had lost enough already.

Roy didn’t get home until a quarter to six, and by that point she had been sitting at the kitchen table anticipating his arrival for so long that she thought she was going to throw up.

“Hey, babe,” he said as he walked through the small kitchen and straight to the refrigerator for a beer. “How long have you been home?”

She pushed her chair back from the table and stood up. “A couple hours. I wasn’t feeling well, so I left early.”

He frowned but didn’t say anything, and took a swig of his Budweiser.

She was wringing her hands, trying to calm down, but despite the number of times she had rehearsed her speech none of the words seemed worth saying.

“Is something wrong?” he asked. “Are you sick?”

“No, I -” Pam licked her suddenly dry lips, and then nervously chewed on the bottom one. “I want -” She stopped, took a deep breath, and started again. “I’m leaving, Roy.” Her words rang in the sudden silence, and she watched his face change from concern to disbelief.

She wished at that moment that she had just left; that she didn’t have to put him or herself through this scene.

He recovered somewhat and set his beer down on the counter by the stove. A firm, “What?” was all he could seem to manage.

“I’m leaving,” she said again and only found it marginally easier. “I can’t marry you. I can’t - none of this is right, not anymore.” She was starting to wonder if it ever had been, or if it was all just some high school fairytale given life by her teenage mind. This wasn’t anything she had ever expected.

“Are you kidding me, Pam?” he said and she could see his shock fading into anger.

She merely shook her head.

“It’s three weeks till our wedding, and you’re just going to bail now?”

She wanted to yell at him that she couldn’t count the number of times he had bailed on her, but she held it in just like she always did.

“I can’t go through with it, Roy.” She was trying not to cry, but she could feel the stinging behind her eyelids. “I don’t want to,” she said and her voice was a little more firm.

“Are you at least going to explain to me why you’re throwing away the better part of a decade?” he asked, trying to keep control.

She blinked and she saw his eyes darken.

“Does this have anything to do with Halpert?”

All of the air flew out of her at his near-accusation. “What? No! Why would you even think-?” She huffed out a breath and her hands balled into fists. He was closer to the truth than she would have liked, but this wasn’t all about Jim; it never had been.

“I can’t believe you, Roy. Did you ever stop to consider maybe this is about you?”

“Me? What did I do?”

She just stopped herself from laughing bitterly. Shaking her head, she looked down at her feet. “It’s more all the things you didn’t do than the things you did,” she said quietly. Maybe he didn’t want to hear it, and maybe he wouldn’t even know what she was talking about, but that’s what it all came down to.

“I don’t understand,” he said.

“I know, Roy. Don’t you see? I don’t understand you and you don’t understand me, and I lost all the reasons we were together a long time ago. I just don’t know why it took me this long to see that.”

“But I love you,” he said.

“I know,” she said, wondering how things became so crystal clear in such a short time. This was supposed to be the most difficult thing in her life to this point, but all she felt was resignation about the sham they had become. “You think you do, or you’ve told yourself you do for so long that it just became a routine.”

She knew that she had loved him once, but things weren’t the same anymore. It had been a high school sweetheart kind of love, and it hadn’t quite survived the transition to adulthood, in which she now stood, the vestiges of youth and hope and bright, shiny dreams seemingly scattered on the floor at her feet.

In every scenario she had imagined he had been yelling or throwing something, but the Roy in front of her simply looked like she had just kicked him in the gut. She hoped that he could forgive her someday, not only for this, but for perpetuating the lie as long as she had. She had been so frustrated and hopeless about what they had become for years longer than she cared to admit, and she couldn’t help but think this would have been so much easier before they let it get this far. But there was nothing to be done about it now, so he was just going to have to hate her if he wanted. She had to take the first step to free them both because she knew he never would.

“I’m going to my mom’s for a few days.” She didn’t know what else to say.

He took a couple of steps closer, slowly, as if he thought he might startle her. “What am I going to do without you?” he said.

Pam closed the short distance between them, raised up on her tiptoes, and kissed him on the cheek. “I think you’ll be better off than you think,” she said and backed away.

He looked crushed, and she hated the fact that she apparently had the ability to break the heart of every man that had ever meant anything to her.

She started to leave, but turned in the doorway and looked back. “I’ll call you in a couple days. Mom and I will… take care of things.”

He nodded.

“Goodbye, Roy,” she said, and when he said nothing she turned and headed for the front door. She grabbed her keys from the end table, and just before she shut the door she flinched a little at the sound of a beer bottle shattering against the kitchen floor.

It wasn’t until she was safely in her car that she began to shake. She was shocked that she had held it together as well as she had, but now she wasn’t so sure she had the strength left to drive the two hours to her parents’ house. But she didn’t have much of a choice since she had just walked out of her own home and she couldn’t afford to stay in a hotel on what she made.

She willed herself not to cry, because she had to drive whether she liked it or not. Tears would have to wait for later.

The radio served as something of a distraction on the drive, but not really because of the music itself. The biggest distraction was the number of times she had to change the station because a song reminded her of Jim, of all people. She did hear the opening notes of Jewel’s You Were Meant for Me at one point, and that was when she totally gave up and left it on a country music station even though she hated country (but secretly liked Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts, and no one would ever find out about either).

That was enough for her to keep it together until Islands in the Stream came on, and she shut the radio off altogether. It was like the whole universe was plotting against her to remind her of Jim until she wanted to scream.

She wished she hadn’t left her CD case in the backseat, though she doubted that would be any help. At least half of her collection consisted of mix CDs Jim had made for her or albums he had copied. Looking through that case now would be like an emotional minefield.

It was not lost on her that, an hour and a half into her drive, she had mostly been thinking about Jim. She had just ended a nine year relationship, and somehow her best friend abandoning her was foremost on her mind.

She supposed that said something, because after all, wasn’t he the catalyst for everything that was happening? If it hadn’t been for him it would never have occurred to her that she should call off her wedding, or that there was the hope of something better in her life. It didn’t necessarily feel that way at the moment, because she was more lost and confused than she could ever remember being in her life.

The thought of never seeing or speaking to him again was terrifying, even though her anger at him had made it an appealing prospect earlier in the week. She wondered if she should call him; not that she thought she could survive another scary conversation in one night. She hadn’t even told her own mother what was going on yet, so she figured it would have to wait.

Everything was so up in the air, and by the time she pulled into the driveway of her parents’ home she felt like she had run a marathon. She put the car in park and gave herself a moment to lay her head on the steering wheel and steel herself for another difficult conversation. It seemed like she was having a lot of those lately.

When she finally felt ready, she took some calming, deep breaths and got out of the car. She went around and pulled the suitcase with all of her most pressing items in it, and lugged it up to the front door. It was only about eight-thirty, so she rang the bell and waited.

Her mother answered almost immediately, as if she had been waiting, and Pam gave her a weak smile and hauled her luggage into the foyer. She dropped it with a dull thud, and her mom opened her arms. That was when she totally lost it, and she fell into her mother’s embrace, sobbing so deeply her chest hurt.

“Oh, honey, what happened?” Patty Beesly asked, and stroked her daughter’s hair.

Pam could only shake her head against her mother’s shoulder, completely unable to speak.

“It’s okay, let it out,” Patty said. “Just one thing, are you hurt in any way?”

Pam shook her head again.

“Okay, then,” her mother said understandingly and they stood there for several minutes until Pam was calm enough to take a step back.

Tears were still rapidly coming, but she thought maybe she had regained at least a little bit of control.

“You want to go in the living room, Pam? Dad’s upstairs watching baseball, so we can talk.”

Pam nodded miserably, rubbing at her eyes, looking around until she found a box of Kleenex on the table by the door. She grabbed a handful and followed her mother into the comfortable living room, and took the seat she patted on the couch next to her.

When they were settled, Patty resumed looking at her worriedly.

“Did you have a fight with Roy?”

“No, I -” she sobbed again and paused to take a deep breath. “I l-left him.”

She was worried when her mother didn’t look more surprised, but then again she had been the first person she had called the night Jim told her he loved her.

“Are you sure, Pam? This is what you want?”

Pam nodded, blowing her nose. “I couldn’t stay. Everything’s wrong now. Jim left. He went to Stamford, Mom, and I know it was because of me. I know he transferred because of me, because I told him I was going to marry Roy. And that was such a stupid lie. I knew I couldn’t do it after that night, but he didn’t give me time to - to think or to process or anything. He just walked away, and he never came back. I don’t even know when he got his things from his desk, but it couldn’t have been during working hours, even though everything was gone Tuesday morning when I came into work. Now I don’t know where he is or what he’s thinking. And Roy, oh God, Mom, you should have seen him. He was crushed, and I did that to him. He doesn’t even really know why, because I couldn’t tell him. I am such a horrible person, and now I don’t know what to do.

“And the plans! How do you even cancel a whole wedding? I don’t know who to call or how to notify all the guests at once, and I just -” Another sob broke free and she was gone again, which was kind of a relief since she was well aware that she was a frantic, rambling mess.

Her mom patted her arm gently and waited it out. “You’re not a horrible person, Pam,” she said. “You are so far from it. If you don’t want to marry Roy it’s better you decide that now instead of the day of the wedding or ten years after it.”

Pam wiped her eyes, horrified at the amount of mascara that was coming off on the tissue and what she must look like. “You’re not mad?” she asked, like she was five years old again.

Patty smiled at her. “Why would I be mad, Pam? I’m sad that you’re in so much pain, but I’m not mad. The only thing that would make me angry with you is if you did something you didn’t want to do just because you think everyone thinks you should. That’s not how I raised you.”

Pam swallowed hard. “I know. It’s just - This isn’t the way it was supposed to go. Ever since I was sixteen I thought I was going to marry Roy and live happily ever after, and what do I do now?”

“Honey, life isn’t a fairytale, you know that. Still, sometimes our Prince Charming does exist, he’s just not always the one we notice to begin with.”

Sniffling, Pam looked at her lap.

“As for what you do now,” her mother continued, “anything you want. I’ll help you cancel the wedding, find a new place to live, anything you need you know you have me and Daddy to help you, right?”

Pam nodded, feeling her eyes start to sting again.

“And if you need me to hunt Jim Halpert down for you, I’ll do that, too,” Patty offered with a gentle smile.

Pam let out a broken laugh, sincerely doubting he wanted to hear from anyone named Beesly now, if ever. “I imagine he hates me right now,” she said, twisting the tissue in her hands.

“I highly doubt that from what you’ve told me,” Patty said. “I’m sure he’s disappointed and probably even heartbroken, but I don’t think he could ever hate you.”

Pam sighed deeply. “Yeah, well, you weren’t there for that total obliteration either,” she said dully. “What is wrong with me? How could this have all gone so horribly wrong?” she wondered out loud. “Why couldn’t I see it? Jim would do anything for me. He would go to any lengths to just to make me smile through the horror we put up with everyday, and Roy barely mumbled a question about how my day was when I got home. It was like… Jim was the one I was having the emotional relationship with, and if his eyes Friday night were any indication, it must have been killing him. I was killing him, and Roy didn’t even really know who I was anymore, and that’s what I told myself was normal. I mean - God.”

She was pretty sure she had never talked so much in such a short span of time in her life, and it was starting to sound like she was conducting her own therapy session, but she couldn’t help it. She was absolutely stunned at the level of blindness she had achieved, and how quickly it all became so obvious once she could truly see.

“I think you’ve answered most of your own questions,” her mom said.

“I wish it felt that way,” Pam said with a sigh, having finally stopped crying. At least for the time being.

“Are you -” Patty started, but stopped when she saw Pam shake her head sharply.

“No,” Pam said. “I’m not going to call him. That would be so… ridiculous, I guess? It’s too soon. I mean, I know that I l-” She flushed bright pink. “I care about Jim, but he can’t be the rebound guy, Mom. He’s more than that,” she said before she could catch herself, and the words slammed into her with all the force of a punch. She clutched at her stomach and tried to stay calm.

Her mom scooted closer and put her hand on Pam’s shoulder, squeezing a little bit.

“I just need time. I don’t know what’s going to happen, and that’s scary. And even with the way things had gotten lately, it’s going to be weird living without Roy. I was supposed to marry him in three weeks, not walk out on him, and I couldn’t even do that right.” She felt her lip start to tremble again and buried her face in her hands.

Patty pulled her into her arms and let her cry again. Pam suddenly understood why she hadn’t done this sooner - it was too hard. She suddenly never wanted to leave her parents’ couch ever again, because she didn’t know what she was going to do without all the plans she had been making for so long. They had become like a security blanket or a safety net, and now she was all grown up, all alone, and nothing felt safe anymore.

When she settled down a bit, her mother pulled back, hands still lightly holding her shoulders. “Pamela Anne Beesly, you are not a failure, which is what your last statement seemed to indicate. I won’t have you thinking of yourself as one either, got that?”

A small smile broke through on Pam’s face in spite of herself. Her mother was her best friend, but she could still be such a mom when she wanted to be. She nodded and her mom’s face softened, smiling at her.

“You are going to get through this, and I believe you’ll be better off for it. And if you tell Jim what’s happened and he wants to try again, or you want to give it time and go to him when you’re ready, that’s fine. If not, that’s fine. Everything is up to you, and you can go for whatever you want whenever you want it.”

“Thank you, Mom,” Pam said, reaching out to hug her.

“And you’re not alone,” Patty said as if she had read her mind.

Pam pulled back and nodded. “I know.”

“Good. Now do you want to get some tea or go to bed? You can pop in upstairs and tell your father goodnight, but you know he’s not coming out of that room until his game is over,” Patty said with a laugh.

“I think I just want to go to bed. It’s been a really long, exhausting week.”

Her mom nodded in understanding, and followed her from the couch to the foyer where she helped her daughter pick up her heavy suitcase and drag it up the stairs.

Pam stopped at the first doorway on the left to greet her father and kiss him goodnight, while her mother gave him a look that clearly said ‘I’ll tell you later’.

She stopped at the guest room door and hugged her mother one final time, told her goodnight, and wrestled her suitcase just inside the door where she left it, and then collapsed on the bed. This was not the house in which she had grown up, so there were no familiar things to keep her company, but the room was neat and cozy. She slipped off her sneakers and wondered why she hadn’t thought to change clothes before she had left Scranton. She was still wearing her work attire, so she made herself stand up again and dig through her suitcase for pajamas and her toothbrush.

When she was in her pajama pants and tank top, she crossed the hall to brush her teeth and splash some water on her tear-ravaged face. She barely recognized the face in the mirror, and she wasn’t sure yet whether that was a good thing or not.

She went back to her room, climbed in the bed, and turned the TV on for a little while. One trip through the channels assured her she wouldn’t find much of anything there to ease her mind, so she turned it off, fluffed up her pillow, and turned on her side. She couldn’t remember sleeping alone since she had moved out of her parents’ house, and that was just another thing to which she was going to have to become accustomed again.

Taking a deep breath, she shut her eyes tightly against another onslaught of tears. She hoped that Roy was all right and hadn’t done anything stupid. She wouldn’t be able to live with herself if he had. She wondered where Jim was and if he could possibly still love her, and how she was going to be strong enough to rebuild her life all on her own.

She felt totally responsible for the mess they were all in, and she just hoped they could all survive it. If there wasn’t a happy ending somewhere past all the destruction, she didn’t know what she would do.

Then again, she was no longer a believer in those childish fairytales. She would just have to find a way to make it on her own, because no one was coming to her rescue this time.

Finis
 
 
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: Fairytale - Sara Bareilles