a series of unfortunate come-ons

by zara hemla :: the office (us) :: dwight & meredith; dwight & kelly; dwight & gil :: pg-13 :: you must be from pearl harbor, because baby, you're the bomb.

1. If I followed you home, would you keep me?

The stupidest thing about Jim putting all his office implements in Jell-O is, that Jim can get them to stay suspended. They don't sink to the bottom -- they're perfectly centered inside the stuff. How does he do it? With wires? Does he let the Jell-O harden slightly? Does he do it halfway, and then pour more over top of it? The conundrum drives Dwight even crazier than the cold, sticky feeling of putting his hand in ground-up horse hooves and water.

The morning after the new guy makes fun of him too (custardy, HA), Michael goes into his office and comes out laughing like a loon. He's carrying a plate of yellow Jell-O with his "World's Best Boss" mug suspended in it perfectly.

"Well done, Jim! Well done!" He slaps Jim on the back, and Jim smiles that stupid goofy smile.

"Thanks, boss."

"See, Dwight? I'm a good sport. I don't mind Jim putting -- PUDDING, get it -- my mug in the Jell-O. Get it?" He's as happy as a kid. Dwight grins sourly; what else can he do?

Michael puts down the plate with a thunk, right on the border between Jim and Dwight's desks. "Free Jell-O for anyone that's hungry! I'd appreciate it! Then I could have some coffee!" he says, and goes back into his office. As he shuts his door, Dwight hears him say, "I really need some coffee."

No one touches the Jell-O. When Dwight goes out to lunch, it is still there, obscenely yellow and disgusting. And it's all he can think about all through lunch. Not just the Jell-O, but Jim. And Michael. And how they're all in it together, all in it against him. He's going to report them ... somehow, he's going to get even.

He slams back into the office precisely at 1 pm, ready to do battle, but Michael is not in his office. And someone is sitting in Dwight's chair, eating the Jell-O. As he comes around his desk, he can see that it's Meredith. Her eyes are bright and her face is flushed, and she's made quite an effort at freeing the mug. As Dwight takes a breath to tell her to get out of his chair, she swivels to face him. She grins at him mockingly and then, suggestively enough that even he can't ignore it, licks the bite of Jell-O off the spoon.

"Hi, Dwight," she says.

He can feel a hot blush creeping up from his neck to his hairline. He stammers something at her, then hears a snort from behind him and whirls. Jim, who's come up behind, is bent over, shaking with silent laughter. Further back, Phyllis is wearing a weird half-smile and Oscar is staring at him with something like sympathy.

"You," says Dwight, and points at Jim with a shaking hand. "This is your fault."

"Don't hate the player," gasps Jim, who has to sit on the floor because he's laughing so hard. Dwight can even see the cameramen grinning at each other.

"I'm taking the afternoon off," he says through his teeth, grabs his coat, and slams out the door. Corporate will be hearing about this. Dwight has a very, very long letter already written in his head.

2. You must be from Pearl Harbor, because baby, you're the bomb.

The week after Dwight turns in his deputy sheriff's badge, it dumps down rain. Everyone slogs to work with wet shoes and cuffs, soaking umbrellas and brightly colored raincoats. Pam's is baby pink and Meredith's is as red as those wet lipsticks on Loreal commercials. Dwight doesn't have a raincoat, but he brings his big plaid umbrella and stashes it back by Toby's desk, so that Jim doesn't do something horrible to it like glue the spokes together.

Precisely at 5:02, he retrieves the umbrella. Toby says, "I wish you wouldn't keep your umbrella back here."

"Why not?"

"It's wet. It drips on the floor and the carpet gets all squishy."

"Well," Dwight says triumphantly, "if you had EVER followed up on those complaints I wrote to you about Jim, I could keep my umbrella up by me. But since you won't even LOOK at them ...."

"All right, all right," sighs Toby. From behind him, Kelly giggles.


The next day, Toby leaves early for a meeting with Corporate. Dwight tries to get him to say what it's about, but Toby won't tell. At 5:02, he goes back to get his umbrella and realizes his mistake. Toby was like Belgium -- a neutral zone between him and Kelly -- but now Belgium has up and gone to New York.

"Dwight, are you going to Pam's wedding?" asks Kelly. Weddings. That's all women EVER talked about. Dwight doesn't know how to get away from her. Her mouth ... just ... keeps moving. It's almost hypnotic. He finds himself just staring, wondering what she could find to talk about for so long. Wondering how her teeth could be so white.

He flicks a look up at the clock and it's 5:10. Intolerable. *What* could get her to stop? Before he even thinks, he leans forward and kisses her. She is soft and sweet, and when he pulls back, he smells sugared cherries -- her lip gloss.

5:11, and her jaw has dropped almost to her chest. She is clutching her manila folder and staring at him in patent shock. But, and this is a big but, she is completely, utterly quiet.

"Gotta go," he says, grabs his umbrella, and makes tracks.

3. Well, here I am. What were your other two wishes?

On Casino Night, Oscar's friend Gil shows up for an hour or two. Dwight notices this, as he notices everything that happens. His hawk eye is why Michael made him the point man for the Love Triangle. Jan hasn't arrived yet, but Dwight sees Michael chatting up the real estate agent, and he relaxes so he can play a little.

During a game of craps, Angela slaps his face. It turns him on immediately; he can't help the goofy smile that stays on his face even as his cheek begins to sting. But then she ignores him for the rest of the night, and he can't figure it out. Is she mad at him or isn't she? Did she like slapping him? It preoccupies him enough that he misses Jan's entrance, and by the time he figures it out, she's already seen Carol and the manure has hit the ventilating device.

He's a miserable failure. Angela hates him, Michael's mad at him, and he's lost $50 at craps. He strides over to the bar and stands uncertainly, wondering what to order.

"Need a drink?" It's Gil, and he looks amused. Dwight nods shortly, unable to explain himself. Gil leans over to the bartender.

"Two Rose Kennedys, and put it on Oscar's tab," he says with a smile, and in two minutes they both have something pinkish in a tall glass with lemon.

"Thanks," says Dwight, and takes a sip. It tastes a bit like something fruity, but mostly like alcohol, so that's good. Maybe Angela will see him drinking it and slap him again.

"You all right, man?" says Gil. "You don't look like you're enjoying the party."

"I'm all right," says Dwight. He drains half the tall glass and things wobble for a minute. He puts his hand out, and Gil catches it and puts it on the bar.

"Maybe you should go slower?"

"Or maybe I should go faster." Dwight begins to negotiate through all the ice to find the rest of the alcohol in his glass.

"You had a fight with your girl, huh?"

"What are you, my shrink?" Dwight looks narrowly at Gil, but he just looks ... nice. Nice, and understanding. Dwight, tongue feeling a bit loose, decides he ought to confide in Gil. He slams the glass on the bar, beckoning the bartender to give him another.

"What do you think it means when a girl kisses you one day and slaps you the next day?" He grabs the new drink and takes a long sip. Gil smiles.

"Maybe it means she doesn't know what she wants."

"Huh." It makes a perverse kind of sense. "I'll tell you something." He leans close enough to Gil to notice a bit of five-o-clock shadow. "I don't -- I. Don't. Know what I want either."

"I see that," Gil says. "Hey, but I bet it would help if you talked it out with each other. No, not now --" he grabs Dwight's arm to prevent him from lurching off -- "Later. When you're not, um, you know."

Dwight considers. "She doesn't like guys who drink."

"Uh huh. Well, how about you call a cab? Or I'll call one for you."

"Nah," says Dwight. "I'm. I'm good to go." He swings around, looking for the exits, but he can't find much inbetween the darkness and the blue and red swirling neon lights. A hand catches him under the elbow, and he leans gratefully into Gil's warm body and finishes his second drink.

After that it's sort of a blur. He hears Oscar say, "Oh, geez, someone let Dwight have a drink."

"Two drinks, actually," he says, and somehow he's in the back of a car and Oscar is giving Gil directions to his house. They drag him up to the door and find his keys in his coat pocket. Inside, they lay him on his sofa.

"Should we, you know, undress him?" he hears Gil say, and Oscar replies, "Sweetie, I don't think even you want to see what's under there."

"Sleep well, man," says Gil, and someone pats him gently on the cheek. The door closes quietly behind them and he does sleep for a bit, until he has to throw up. In the morning he decides that Gil is a pretty cool guy. Maybe he ought to have those two over for a kung fu movie sometime. They'd probably love it.


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