Word Count: 2,274
Spoilers: through "Business Trip"; set in speculative future land
Summary: Michael, Holly, and moving on.
Author's Note: Aaaughhh, what's wrong with me, IT'S LIKE A SICKNESS. It's like the universe suddenly went, 'Hmm, November. Finals. Thousands upon thousands of words of terrifying essays due. National Novel Writing Month! I KNOW. Now is time for you to make up for not writing any Office fic for a year!!'
It's just ... the only explanation I can even come up with, damn it.
I don't even really know why I wrote this, other than to let out my feelings. Which are bountiful, and tormented. (To the point where they drive me to quote Jewel in my poorly crafted titles, zounds.) Oh, Michael/Holly. ♥
Once she moves back to Nashua, Holly settles in again pretty fast. Work is the same. Everybody at work is the same, give or take a new haircut or two. They all seem happy to have her back. Nobody puts a raccoon in her car, or anything.
The Scranton branch has a bit of a reputation, so everybody asks her for crazy stories. On her lunch break her first day back, she tells the one about Kevin, expecting that it’ll be really funny for everyone else even if the memory still makes something curl up and die in her when she thinks about it, but she messes up and somehow the part about what Dwight told her doesn’t come across clearly, so it pretty much results in her saying “wait, but I forgot to mention—”, “wait, but to get this, you have to know about—” a whole bunch of times, and everybody seeming to think that she just decided on her own that Kevin was, you know.
“Holly, that’s terrible!” Erin the receptionist says, laughing. There’s a whole lot of laughing, in fact. She smiles and tries not to blush. She doesn’t know why it bothers her so much. It’s not like she’s the new girl here.
Everyone knows that the transfer happened because she was dating Michael. It’s just the kind of news that everyone magically seems to know. Michael’s got a little bit of a reputation, too.
“You still dating him?” asks Brian with a too-straight face.
“No,” Holly replies, surprised that the little twinge in her heart doesn’t show up in her voice. She adds, as explanation, “Long distance.”
“Ah,” Brian says, “too bad.” But it doesn’t sound like ‘too bad.’ It sounds more like ‘phew, you dodged a bullet there.’
The next day, she decides to go out for lunch. She picks a sandwich shop around the corner from the building that she’s always meant to try but never gotten around to. She’s in the mood for something new. That way, this will probably feel a lot less like moving backwards.
It’s not that Michael doesn’t like sex. He does. Obviously. He’s not some weird, sex-hating mutant.
He can tell that Concierge Marie smokes, though, even though he never sees her do it. Her clothes smell like cigarette smoke, and she kind of tastes like it when they’re kissing, which is blechhhh, gross. It reminds him of Jan, and he doesn’t want to be thinking about Jan. He tries to pay more attention to her hair, because it’s blonde, but all he can really even concentrate on is that smell. He would have thought that sort of thing would be against the code of conciergery, or something. If there is a code, which there probably is, because it is a sacred and timeless art. And the smoking, it’s got to be breaking it. It sure isn’t giving him any pleasure. Or local knowledge.
When he tries to put his arm around her after their crazy no-strings-attached commitment-free exotic foreign locale anything-can-happen sex, she makes an “uh uh” noise, gets out of bed, and goes into the bathroom. He listens, and feels sort of weird, staring around the dark hotel room. He wonders if Andy’s hooked Oscar up with any hot dudes yet. He hopes so. Oscar’s a good guy. He’s earned it.
Hopefully the hot dudes don’t smoke, because that totally blows. (That’s what she said.) Michael knows from experience.
The toilet flushes, and the sink runs, but she doesn’t come back out. He starts wondering if he should go check on her or something. Nobody stays in the bathroom that long. Maybe she’s on the toilet again, but she washed her hands (so they do that here too), that makes no sense.
He thinks he’ll ask her if she wants to have breakfast. Because he is a gentleman, and that is what gentlemen do for the ladies they have sex with. Gross cigarette smell or no gross cigarette smell.
But then she’s still in the bathroom. Jeez. Come on. He finally sort of slides over from the right side of the bed to the left, because Holly liked the right, so he’d been training himself to become a left-side sleeper. God, after they’d have sex, they would just snuggle up against each other and stay that way for as long as they wanted. He’s pretty sure he’s never met anybody as cuddly as Holly, which had worked out great, because for some reason, most of the women Michael dates don’t seem to like cuddling at all, and he doesn’t get that. So it was a nice change.
He thinks Holly must be sleeping right now. Right side of the bed, curled up on her side with one arm tucked under the pillow and the other one stretched out to touch – well, nobody, now. He stretches his arm out a little. It makes a soft, rustling noise against the sheets. His fingers still right where imaginary Holly starts.
The bathroom door opens, and he pulls his arm back and puts a smile on his face. Concierge Marie looks surprised he’s still there – like, what, does he really seem like one of those guys who’d just take off?
Women so do not get him. Most of the time.
Holly meets Will at the sandwich shop, actually, so there’s her something new. He works at the bank across the street from Dunder Mifflin, and grabs lunch there every day. For the first month or so, they just smile and exchange small talk while they stand in line to order, but he winds up asking for her number. She gives it to him, because – well, because he’s nice and cute and seven hours isn’t going to magically stop being seven hours.
They go to the movies and have a nice time. They get dinner the next weekend, and they have a nice time then too. They eat lunch together most days, and all of a sudden, she’s got a boyfriend who’s not Michael.
She didn’t really think it would be this easy.
It doesn’t feel easy all the time.
He’s really witty and well-read, and when she does things without thinking like sing the Land of the Lost theme song because both of their names are in it, he doesn’t look at her like she’s crazy.
“You’re such a dork, Holl,” he’ll say instead, fondly, and he’ll laugh.
He’s a really, really great guy.
She thinks about Michael, though. Just remembers little things. Like this one morning they’d stayed in bed and talked for hours about random, silly stuff, making each other crack up laughing. Somehow, it had turned into a contest to see who could remember all the lyrics to “Men in Tights” – turned out they both could, and Holly remembers feeling dizzy-drunk-happy lying there with sunlight pouring through the blinds singing out “We may look like sissies, but watch what you’ll say or else we’ll put out your lights” through her laughter. They ‘da da da-da-da-da daaa da’d their way through the can-can interlude and kicked all the blankets off the bed.
She sings it in the car on the way back from dinner, just because. She doesn’t know. She’s curious. It’s an experiment.
“What is that, like, Spamalot?” Will asks, smiling at her like he wants to get the joke.
“Robin Hood: Men in Tights,” she says, biting her lip. “Sorry.”
He tells her not to apologize. “It’s cute.”
Jan just shows up at Michael’s door one day in December, out of nowhere. She looks beautiful, like always, but it’s like it doesn’t even work on him anymore. The boobs have no meaning. He thinks he would have liked it better if she’d lost the boobs and kept the sanity, because she really did used to seem so … just … great. He has a hard time remembering those days, though. Somewhere around the time she moved in with him, they just started to seem fuzzy and unreal. Sure, once she kissed him in an elevator, and didn’t even have to be drunk to do it, but she’s also mean, and crazy, and doesn’t really seem to care about him at all except when it helps her to do it.
“I want to try this again,” she says.
His heart sinks.
“Yeah,” he says, looking over her head across the street. “I’m not sure if I’m amenable. With that. Proposition.”
“Michael, will you just let me inside, please?” She starts to sound angry, but catches herself. More kindly, she adds, “It’s freezing out here.”
He thinks about just slamming the door in her face. Bam! He doesn’t really want to let her into his house ever again. The spare room still smells like her stupid candles.
But he can’t really be mean to her, because she’s holding a baby. He’s not despicable. He’s not Toby. “Yeah, okay.”
They talk, and she says she’s in a better place now and she thinks she’s ready for the pressure that comes with having a relationship. Michael thinks about telling her that it turns out not all relationships have to be hard, but he doesn’t because then maybe she’ll figure out about Holly. He sort of wants to tell her, but he wants to keep it away from her more. Holly is so the opposite of Jan. Ruining things is pretty much Jan’s specialty, and if she ruined Holly too – somehow, even though it seems impossible, ‘cause if anyone could, it’d be Jan – he’d just have to. Well. Do something bad.
Finally, he says yes when Jan asks if they can go out to coffee sometime, because he figures that will get her to leave. This gives her that look that reminds him of pre-crazy Jan, where she’s happy because something went just the way she wanted it to. She used to look like that when she first came into the office on her trips to check on Scranton. Usually by the time she left a few hours later, the look was gone.
Now, she stands up and kisses him on the cheek and strides out of his condo. He watches her go and for a second he imagines her in, like, one of those nice business suits she used to wear, with those really high heels that she never even stumbled in. Now she kind of looks like a really stylish hippy.
He waves at Astrid (Astrid, Astrid, he’ll get it down sooner or later) over her shoulder, but Astrid just stares back at him, all blank and big-eyed. He doesn’t get it. The kid is still almost his, basically. He’s the closest thing it’s got to a dad, and he still just Doesn’t. Feel. It.
Maybe it’ll change once they spend more time together.
If, that is. Because he still hasn’t said yes to this whole getting-back-with-Jan thing. And it’s his choice.
Holly breaks things off with Will, because he’s nice but she just doesn’t feel it, and it doesn’t seem fair to him. It goes really well. No tears.
Fine, he gets back together with Jan. He doesn’t mean to. It just happens, sort of. He thinks maybe it will be a little better this time. The number one rule of having a baby is that you can’t go crazy and throw Dundies at irreplaceable television sets whenever you feel like it. So this will probably be about as good for him as it is for Astrid.
They celebrate their reunion with a nice candlelit dinner. (“Or, shall I say, a Jandlelit dinner,” he says, and she smiles even though he can tell she doesn’t really think it’s funny.) She even gives him a forty percent discount on the candles, so.
It’s a long drive. It is. Holly knows, because she drives it. It’s not any easier than she remembered.
Still, she takes the day off work, spurred by this feeling that just won’t let go of her even though it’s been months and she should be good and settled by now. She leaves in the morning and digs around her house until she finds the CD so she can listen to it while she drives. The work day’s almost over by the time she pulls into the parking lot. She knows she doesn’t look great, and she’s a little exhausted. Not to mention that she’s not really sure what she’s doing. That’s okay. Doing it seems like the important thing.
She’s shaking when she gets out of the car, but it’s a good kind of shaking, like her heart’s going to jump out of her chest. In a good way. If there’s a good way for your heart to jump out of your chest.
Into building. Into elevator. Out of elevator. Through the hall, and then she’s inside. Really-here inside. She notices the camera guys first. One of them turns away from the accounting corner and does this spazzy little jump thing at the sight of her. He grins really big, gets the camera on her.
“All right, people, I am here to set things straight,” comes a familiar voice in Grand Proclamation mode. And there he is, stepping out of his office. Her stomach dissolves into butterflies. “I have just been informed by Wikipedia that – Holly.”
She smiles, and even the thump-thump-thump of her heart can’t quite stop her from feeling strangely, sweetly calm. “Wikipedia told you that?”
He doesn’t say anything back, just stares at her. His mouth falls open a little bit. His eyes light up.
She stands here, in this just-right place, and waits for him to speak.