Pairing: Primarily ensemble, with some Jim/Pam in there
Spoilers: minor ones up to "Safety Training"
Word Count: 3,387
Summary: Andy beatboxes, Kelly enlists Oscar in the support of a different Ryan, Angela is appropriately scandalized, Michael decides that votes are like paper, and Pam over-identifies with Jim's sensitive guy music. This . . . is what happens when your author watches too much American Idol.
Author's Note: So, um, I have this really shameful problem where I have gotten totally into American Idol (it was never going to get me! I went five years without being remotely interested! And oh, I suppose I was doomed to fall into its clutches sooner or later) and thus really uninspired about . . . you know, awesome fictional stuff. But yourmomroxxs suggested that I do a fic blending The Office and American Idol, and I figured, hey. Our Dunder Mifflin Scrantonites are American. Maybe they suffer just as I do. Or something.
These don't all necessarily take place on the same day, because that would mean that they're as obsessed as I am, and that would just be sad.
Haley's by far my favourite contestant this year, I don't think it's anything approaching a big deal that she wore shorts (gasp! shock!), and I love the girl to death. But I had to forsake my personal preference in the face of the fact that Angela quite simply would not feel the same way.
Um, certain sentiments that Kelly voices repeatedly throughout this absolutely in no way reflect, say, my personal views, and quite simply . . . felt organic for her character, is all. Er, never mind the lj layout. I have no idea how that got there.
Also, this is, obviously, set before this past week's traumatic Idol happenings. Tear. Godspeed, Mr. Malakar. Godspeed.
Also also, I believe this is my first time writing Andy. Eep.
Also also ALSO (this is the author's note that ate your life), shout-out to fireworkfiasco's amaaaazing 5 Reasons Why Being Gay Is Totally Awesome, which went there first with the Kelly/Oscar friendship and Kelly's way true Rymon suspicions. It will enrich your life so much!!
“Hey, Andy,” Jim interjects casually. “Whatcha doing?”
“That, Big Tuna,” Andy responds, continuing to lightly pound the interrupted beat against Jim’s desk, “is the fine art known as beatboxing. Also,” he adds as a courteous afterthought, “you are forgiven for interrupting me.”
Jim’s brow creases in mild confusion. “But I’m not sorry.”
And man, does Andy’s smile suddenly look strained. Huh. “Yes, you are.”
Jim shrugs. “No, I’m not.”
Wow. It must . . . really, really hurt, to keep smiling like that. “I think you are.”
“No,” Jim says matter-of-factly, “I’m not.”
The desk-drumming abruptly comes to an end.
“Okay. Well, that’s . . . hunky . . . dory.” Jim notices that he’s clenching his hands into fists now, and makes a quick mental apology to the wall. “I am . . . a-okay with that.” He takes a deep breath, mumbles something to himself, and then busts out an even bigger, crazier smile. Which is apparently what it looks like for Andy to be a-okay with something. “So. What’d ya think?”
“The beatboxing.” He stands up a little taller. “Pretty good, huh?”
“Yeah, you know, it was sort of familiar.” Jim puts on his best absently pondering face. “But I just can’t put my finger on…—”
“Blake Lewis,” Andy interjects smugly, rapping one triumphant fist against Jim’s desk. “Your next American Idol. Count on it.”
And he gets that he shouldn’t provoke the guy that’s newly released from anger management training, but come on. He’s begging for it.
“I dunno,” Jim says with practiced nonchalance. “I’ve been voting for Sanjaya.”
Andy’s smile turns all stiff again. “Seriously?”
“Oh, yeah.” He nods emphatically. “Me and Karen both. A few nights ago, we seriously voted for two straight hours. My fingers started bleeding.”
Andy lets out a quick snort of disbelieving laughter. “You’re kidding.”
“No, it was totally okay, don’t worry,” Jim says, holding up a hand to stay his concern. “She put bandaids on them for me afterwards.”
Andy trips over a few garbled syllables for a second before settling on, “Tuna, are you high?”
Jim considers this for a moment. “I don’t think so.” He breathes in. “Honestly, Andy, I just think he’s a really, really good singer.”
Andy catches his derisive laughter just in time, and actually winds up choking on it a little bit. His eyes bug out a little as he replies, freakishly pleasant, “Huh. Okay. Um, that . . . is cool, and I respect that.”
“Yeah,” Jim says, and lets his gaze drift nostalgically to the ceiling. “That night when he sang You Really Got Me, and that girl was crying in the audience . . .well, I don’t really like to tell people this, ‘cause—” He grimaces, “—kinda embarrassing, but . . . I was crying harder.”
He brings his eyes back down to meet Andy’s.
“Tuna, um, sorry to break it to you,” Andy says, straining for composure, “but there’s no way Sanjaya can win.”
“You know, I don’t think that’s necessarily true,” Jim responds earnestly. “I think he’s got a real shot.”
“He can’t stay there forever,” Andy insists, and it looks like he’s grinding his teeth a little. “He’s stealing the spots of the actual talented people.”
“Hey, Andy?” Pam calls from the reception desk.
Andy looks really relieved to have a distraction. Jim knows her well enough to know that that right there? Pretty big mistake.
“Yes, Miss Beesly?” Andy answers briskly, putting on a big smile that reveals he hasn’t completely forgotten their ainbow-ray onnection-kay days. “How may I help you?”
“Have you ever tried out for American Idol?” she asks innocently.
“What?” Andy sputters. “Uhhh – the correct answer to that would be no. Because that’s lame, and I . . . am not lame, and—”
“What did you sing?” Jim interrupts.
Pam cocks her head to the side curiously. “Did Simon like you?”
“Did you get a hug from Paula, at least?” Phyllis pipes up. She leans across her desk and offers in poorly stage-whispered explanation to Stanley, “Sometimes the really bad ones get hugs.”
Stanley rolls his eyes.
“Andy, aren’t you too old?” Karen chimes in from her desk.
“Hey,” Andy interjects, smiling so big it looks like it just might break his face. “I will see youuu guys later.”
And with that, he turns and heads back to his desk, taking the beat along with him. Depressingly, they all sink back into a quiet, bored stupor exactly four seconds after this happens.
Jim sighs and turns back to his computer, when—
“Fact,” Dwight intones, voice low and steady. “You were lying. You didn’t vote for Sanjaya for two straight hours.”
Which – wow, what is that feeling? Jim could be wrong, but he’s pretty sure it’s like . . . pride, or something.
Yep, he’s proud. Of Dwight. For thinking that he wouldn’t vote for Sanjaya ‘til his fingers bled, which is pretty common knowledge if you’re not insane.
Maybe he’s insane. As of right now, the signs seem to be pointing there.
“Guilty,” he mutters back, grinning slightly.
Dwight doesn’t say anything, or even bother to look away from his computer screen, but Jim’s pretty sure he sees the corner of his mouth twitch up for a second there.
Which just isn’t acceptable. Kelly puts her hands on her hips and stands there and just lets him suffer under her piercing-yet-elusive gaze, like Juliet on Lost (she is so pretty – and mysterious, which is a total turn-on for guys, although maybe Jack won’t like it so much anymore when he finds out the probably-sinister truth and all), and waits for him to realize how lame he’s being.
Oscar stares back for a few seconds and then refocuses his attention on the salad he brought for lunch.
He’s totally her gay best friend and everything, but sometimes he drives her crazy. After continuing the Juliet stare for a little longer, just in case he looks back up, she finally relents and sits back down. She can’t not. Hi, this is important.
“Oscar, seriously,” she admonishes, waving her celery stick for emphasis. “You can’t not know who Ryan Seacrest is. He, like, rules America.”
Oscar sort of grunts in this annoyed way, which is such a straight guy thing to do (she knows because she gets to hear it from Ryan, oh, every day) – which, okay, who does he think he’s fooling?
She lifts an eyebrow at him, all, ‘don’t even try it, ‘cause I’m onto you, mister.’
“Okay, fine,” he relents, and he sounds sort of impatient and mean, but she still has trouble holding back her triumphant smile. “He’s that blonde guy who filled in for Larry King a few times, right?”
Is he even gay? Seriously.
“Blonde?” she repeats blankly.
Maybe Gil is just like his weirdly non-Mexican cousin slash roommate, and he just tells everybody that they’re boyfriends because he doesn’t want to seem lame and no girls want to date a stuffy accountant. Like that whole thing where unpretty girls go to prom with their cousins and just let everybody think that this random hot guy is totally into them. Maybe Oscar’s life is just one big lame gay prom.
“Um,” Oscar says. “Yep?”
“Wow, somebody’s trapped in 2005.” She gives him a stern look, because really. He can’t just keep turning his back on his own people like this, or he more or less becomes Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama. “He’s totally got brown hair now. He went back to his natural color.”
“Ah,” Oscar says quietly, and she likes to think that maybe that means he’s a little ashamed of himself.
She silently forgives him and keeps going. “Which I think is so cool of him, you know? Like he’s accepting who he is.”
“Yeah,” Oscar says. “Hey, good for him.”
“Except not really,” Kelly points out, wrinkling her nose. “Because okay, he can embrace who he is hair-wise and start dressing all nice instead of wearing those horrible season one shirts, but he’s still all, ‘Oh, I like girls! I date Teri Hatcher!’ When really, it’s pretty obvious that he’s all crazy in love with Simon, and it’s just sad, you know?”
“Oh,” Oscar says, and he nods, all understanding – like, really understanding. His eyes are all wide and she would almost think he was making fun of her, except he is the sort of person who gets this stuff. “Absolutely.”
Considering the intimate moment they’re sharing, she knows he’ll totally be honest if she asks him the question. “If you could meet Ryan, like, right now – like, if he randomly appeared – what would you tell him?”
“I would apologize,” Oscar says, “for thinking his hair was blonde.”
He is way too good at being disappointing.
“You mean you wouldn’t give him some great gay advice?” Kelly asks, and can tell she probably looks way crushed.
Oscar looks confused. “Like what?”
“Like,” Kelly pauses, thoughtful. “You shouldn’t have to be ashamed of who you are, and you and Simon should totally just be allowed to hold hands in public, and if anyone gives you crap about it, you should just be like, ‘hey, screw you, America,’ because love is beautiful and if you find that one special person, no one should be able to tell you it’s wrong. Not even Jay Leno.”
Oscar’s smiling a little bit, and she thinks that maybe that came out even better than she meant it to. She’s a tiny bit teary herself, but she didn’t wear waterproof mascara today, and even Ryan Seacrest doesn’t mean quite that much to her. Sometimes there aren’t any Ryans who mean quite that much to her.
“Why don’t you tell him?” Oscar asks, but for the first time, he sounds sort of nice.
“It’ll be so much more meaningful if it’s you,” Kelly protests.
“Well, tell you what,” Oscar says. “If Ryan Seacrest ever randomly appears in this kitchen, I will tell him what you just said, word for word.”
“I will go so far, Kelly, as to swear it to you,” he assures her.
“Aww, Oscar, that’s so sweet!” she reaches over and pats his hand. “And I know that if Ryan knew you existed, he would totally think so too.”
“Thank you, Kelly,” Oscar answers. “That means a lot.”
“No problem,” Kelly says happily. This is a lot more like she always pictured their relationship going – they are totally Will and Grace right now, except without the laugh track and way less dorky. “You know, you’re a really awesome gay guy, Oscar. I bet your boyfriend isn’t even your cousin.”
“Um,” Oscar says, and his smile falters for a second, “that’s a safe assumption.”
Kelly beams at him. “Awesome.”
“Can I show you something?”
“Here. I’ll send it to you.”
“Kevin, don’t—who is this?”
“And what’s that supposed to mean? What is she? Some sort of prostitute?”
“No. She’s my favourite on American Idol.”
“Well, what a surprise.”
“What? She has a nice . . . voice.”
“Like a Disney princess.”
“She got voted off, though.”
“I should hope so.”
“I miss her.”
“Kevin, she was clearly whoring herself out to the American public! That kind of conduct is completely deplorable. How dare you put this onto my computer screen??”
“It’s my desktop picture.”
“Lord help you.”
“Whatever, Angela. You just don’t appreciate a true artist.”
“Get back to work, Kevin.”
“. . . Did you see her legs?”
“You know,” Michael muses, stepping out of his office, “Dunder Mifflin is like American Idol. And paper is like votes. And if you don’t sell enough paper, you go home.”
“But they don’t . . . sell the votes,” Pam points out.
“What?” Michael stares at her, caught off-guard.
“The way you said it,” Pam explains hesitantly. “It sounds like they sell the votes. On American Idol.”
“Okay, well, Pam – that is not the point here. The point is . . .” He contemplates it for a moment before announcing with a broad grin, “I am Simon, because I’m the boss, and people listen to me.”
“But you’re not British,” Dwight points out blankly.
“On the contrary, old chap!” Michael barks. “Cheerio, eh?”
“That’s Canadian,” Kevin points out.
“Eh is Canadian.”
“Just – shhhut it, Kevin.” Michael scowls, but he’s only discouraged for about three seconds before he goes back to surveying the room. “Anyway. So – Jim, you can be Ryan. You’re a good-lookin’ guy.”
“Maybe Ryan should be Ryan,” Jim responds smoothly.
“Oh!” Michael beams. “Hey, good thinking.”
“Jim can be Ryan,” Ryan offers quickly.
“Nope,” Michael says firmly. “You’re Ryan.”
“Fantastic,” Ryan mumbles.
“And Stanley!” Michael exclaims, clapping a hand onto Stanley’s shoulder. “Or shall I say Randy? The dawg! Yo, yo, yo, what’s happening? What’s goin’ down tonight?”
Stanley shifts his gaze slowly from his desk to Michael. “I am trying to do my work, Michael. That’s what’s goin’ down.”
“Talk about the yo factor,” Michael urges excitedly.
Stanley blinks slowly, like he really wouldn’t mind never opening his eyes again if it meant being rid of the sight of Michael grinning. “The what?”
“You know,” Michael pokes his shoulder. “The yo factor.”
“I do not know.”
“Well, okay.” Michael frowns for a moment, then orders, “Say ‘pitchy,’ then.”
“Gaaah, you’re no fun. Dawg.” Stanley shakes his head and goes back to work, and Michael focuses his attention to his other side. “Hey, Karen! You can be Paula, because you’ve got the dark hair, and you’re super-hot.”
“Um,” Karen says.
“Except – well, you know, Paula’s the nice one, and you – don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re a little bit severe.” Michael is perplexed for a moment, and then— “Pam!”
“I don’t want to be Paula,” Pam says immediately.
“Well, you can’t be Paula, you don’t look anything like her,” Michael says impatiently. “But . . . if only we could take your personality, and shove it into Karen’s body. Like – hey, like if you and Karen had a love child. The love child of you and Karen – bam! Perfect Paula!”
Pam and Karen exchange an awkward glance. Jim suddenly becomes very interested in his computer screen.
“And then, with your love child, I will have a secret love affair!” Michael announces grandly. “For I am Simon Cowell! Bwahaha!”
“Are you kidding, Michael?” Kelly demands. “They totally just want you to think that about Simon and Paula. Actually, he completely loves Ryan.”
“Kelly!” Ryan snaps.
“What?” Kelly demands, scowling. “I’m just saying.”
“What?” Michael repeats and lets out a disbelieving laugh. “Simon and Ryan aren’t gay!”
“Are you blind?” Kelly practically yelps. “They—”
“Yeah, you’re right,” Ryan cuts in hurriedly. He turns to Kelly and sternly repeats, “Michael’s right. They’re not.”
“You people are so closed-minded,” Kelly snaps furiously.
Michael frowns. “Kelly, have you been talking to Oscar?”
“Leave me out of this,” Oscar demands from where he’s standing at the copy machine.
“If no one else will, I am willing and able to be Paula for you, Michael,” Dwight announces briskly, standing. “Anywhere. Anytime.”
“What? Ew! No! Gross! Dwight, have you been talking to Oscar too?”
“Oh, for God’s sake,” Oscar mutters.
“No,” Dwight says with a faint touch of confusion, “I’m just here if you need me.”
“I don’t need you, Dwight. God—”
“However, I will not consent to being perpetually inebriated,” Dwight continues sharply. “Or weepy.”
“But will you wear women’s clothing?” Jim inquires. Dwight ignores him.
Michael scowls. “Dwight, just . . . knock it off, okay? You couldn’t be Paula; you’re not a woman, or sexy, and you couldn’t do that dance with the cat—”
“Inebriation could be a definite issue here,” Dwight muses to himself. “Maybe Meredith should be Paula.”
“Maybe no one should be Paula,” Pam cuts in, sounding not unlike a kindergarten teacher. “Maybe we should all just . . . be ourselves.”
“I like that plan,” Jim announces. “All in favour?”
His words are immediately met by a chorus of “aye”s.
“You guys suck,” Michael announces, glowering. “And guess what? I’m voting you all off the island.”
“That’s Survivor,” Karen says.
“You know what? Just . . . no. I’m done with you guys. Goodbye. Scott out.” Michael very pointedly slams the door to his office.
Phyllis frowns. “I thought he was Simon.”
“Ryan doesn’t even say that anymore,” Kelly points out irritably, crossing her arms in front of her chest.
Creed absently glances up from his desk. “Hey – if you folks are in need of a Garfunkel, look no further.”
“I think I may have actually been personally offended,” Jim says, maybe a little quieter than he needs to (but she’s probably just imagining stuff), and he’s got one elbow on the reception desk. “When The Stars Go Blue? Not a country song.”
“I know!” she agrees, leaning forward a little. “That’s totally the first thing I thought of when they announced that.”
“I mean, come on,” Jim sighs, shaking his head in pretend disgust. “Give Ryan Adams some credit here.”
“I knew you’d be upset,” Pam replies, and she can’t help but smile a little.
“Oh, really?” Jim inquires, bringing his other elbow onto the desk and maybe, maybe leaning in. By accident.
“Yeah, really,” she retorts.
He raises his eyebrows. “And how’d you know that, Beesly?”
“I remembered how you like your sensitive music,” she informs him; he pulls a face and she giggles, and then, because it makes her brave, she casually adds, “Actually, you burned me that CD that one time and it was on there.”
“Oh,” he says a little absently, like he’s trying to remember. “Yeah, that’s right.”
“And all of this other stuff, too,” she continues, lighter. “Like, um, that one Travis song, and – but you know, it might damage your image if it gets leaked to the public that you like Damien Rice.”
Jim eyes her solemnly. “Pam?”
“Yeah?” She’s fiddling with the charm on her necklace.
“I hope you know that you’re making me feel pretty insecure about myself right now.”
She starts laughing maybe a second too late, but at least he doesn’t seem to notice.
“Seriously,” he insists. “I’m gonna have to go home and erase all traces of Ryan Adams from my iTunes library. Just . . . let it go and never look back.”
“Oh, don’t,” she orders, smiling.
“Well, I don’t think I have a choice, now,” he responds, faking a scowl.
“Don’t,” she says again. Their laughter dwindles pretty fast into just smiling, and then something in the air shifts a little. She swallows and says, “The song is really pretty, though.”
“Yeah,” Jim agrees, a little softer than he needs to.
“Hey, Jim,” Karen comes up and places a hand on his shoulder. “You ready to head out?”
“Oh, uh, yeah.” Jim glances over at her and he seems almost disoriented, but Pam gets that she’s not exactly unbiased. She’s vowed to stop trying to read into things. “Just let me grab my stuff.”
“’kay.” Karen runs her hand down his arm, presses her fingers thoughtlessly over the back of his palm for a second before pulling away. “I’ll meet you outside. See you tomorrow, Pam.”
“You too, Karen,” Pam calls after her.
There’s the sound of the door closing, and Jim’s still leaning in front of her like nothing’s changed. For a second, she’s tempted not to remind him.
“You better go,” she forces herself to say, maybe just because it would be easier not to. “You don’t want to keep her waiting.”
“Right,” Jim says; he shakes his head a little, like he’s waking up, and raps his fist against the desktop once before standing up straight. “Thanks.”
She smiles. “No problem.”
She doesn’t watch him getting ready to go, and he doesn’t look back up at her until he’s walking past her desk.
She shuts down her computer and straightens up her desk, and all she hears is the low hum of the fluorescent lights, which is really inconvenient – the song won’t get out of her head, and she could really use a distraction.