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21 September 2007 @ 02:40 pm
Unconditional [The Office; Michael/Jan]  
TITLE: Unconditional
FANDOM: The Office
PAIRING: Michael/Jan
SPOILERS: "Cocktails" (3x18)


The phrase tumbled endlessly through Jan's stream of consciousness starting the moment it left Dwight's mouth. At first it was preposterous -- Dwight really was insane. She and Michael were complete opposites, so unbelievably wrong for each other on paper.

But then she'd look down at their hands, fingers linked perfectly together as if molded for each other. And she realized, so what if she and Michael were wrong for each other on paper? She and Gould had been absolutely perfect for each other on paper and it had gone nowhere; it was a passionless, practically loveless union. With Michael, there was tension... chemistry (blinding passion)... a spark that she'd never felt before. It charged her and wore her down all at once.

"Don't break up, you guys. You're great together."

Jan turned just slightly over her shoulder to glance at Dwight, noting his gaze was focused on her and Michael's joined hands... and he was smiling like a little boy on Christmas morning. Like a little boy whose fighting mommy and daddy had made up. Mommy and Daddy. With the big house and picket fence. She looked at their joined hands again. Was that something she could really have with Michael? Could she see herself in the big house with him? Getting up early on a Saturday morning to help him paint their picket fence (because he would insist that it be white)?

She looked over at Michael and watched his Adam's apple bob as he swallowed. There was still a hint of tears in his eyes. The knowledge that she'd hurt him with her callous remark still left an ache in her chest. He was so docile, so tender-hearted. Nothing at all like the grinning, joke-cracking buffoon she'd first seen him as. He was kind... thoughtful (when he wasn't in front of the cameras), and intelligent (also when he wasn't in front of the cameras). The private Michael, her Michael, was nothing like the one the documentary crew saw every day. And then it hit her.

Her Michael. When did Michael become hers? Was he hers when her head hit his shoulder in that hotel room so long ago? Was it when he stepped in so gallantly and rescued her from being fired? Or did he become hers their first day in Jamaica, once they had a moment alone in their hotel room? It was startling to think that Michael was actually hers... almost as startling as the fact that she had known for a long time he was hers. Michael had always made it clear she was all that he wanted; he wore his heart on his sleeve and even when she'd taken that heart and crushed it beneath her sensible pumps... he was still hers. He still gazed at her with that certain look in his eyes... gave her that certain special smile.

"I love you, Jan."

He really did. She saw it now. Michael loved her... unconditionally. Jan had always balked at the idea of "unconditional love" -- love was always conditional. But not with Michael. No matter how rotten she'd been to him, no matter how much she called him stupid and obnoxious and told him there was nothing between them, he still just... loved her. All of her. He didn't idolize her and make her out to be someone she wasn't -- he saw her flaws and loved her regardless. He loved her for exactly who she was and didn't want her to be anything or anybody else. And Jan had never been loved like that.

Her high school boyfriends wanted her to be a little easier. Her college boyfriends wanted her to be more artistic or more political or more... whatever. Gould wanted her to be... well, she still didn't know what the hell Gould wanted her to be. All she knew was as soon as he realized she wasn't a flawless corporate goddess, as soon as he realized she was never going to aspire to be his "arm candy"... he didn't want her anymore. Michael wanted her, just her, all the time... no matter what. Unconditional love. She could sprout a second head and Michael would love it, too. She could balloon up to a thousand pounds and Michael would love every extra inch of her. All her hair could fall out and Michael would make sure she knew every second that she was the hottest bald chick on the planet. Michael loved her because she was just her. He loved her because she was Jan, and that was all that he needed.

"Don't break up, you guys."

As they dropped Dwight off at his car and he jumped out, yelling goodnight to them, Jan watched Michael. The corners of his lips were still downturned just slightly in sadness, and Jan felt another stab to the heart. The rest of the drive to Michael's condo was silent, but not awkward. Just thoughtful. She watched him, and their linked hands alternately the entire time. When they pulled into his driveway and he dropped her hand to shut off the ignition, Jan felt suddenly empty. Michael came around and opened her door for her before she could have more time to process what exactly that meant, and he led her into the condo by the hand. He then helped her take her coat off and hung it on the rack, heading for the living room. "Wanna watch some TV?"

Jan stayed put in the entryway, Dwight's words still flowing through her head.

"You're great together."

God, he was right. They were completely wrong for each other on paper, but when they were together... it worked. She could sit through repeated viewings of 'Caddyshack' and Michael could last through all of 'Steel Magnolias.' They always had things to talk about... sometimes pointless and humorous, sometimes deep and meaningful. The sex was great, there was no denying that. The years of built-up tension and fighting definitely helped that along. Michael made her feel treasured, cherished... adored. He made her feel safe and he scared the hell out of her at the same time. And she realized she no longer wanted to fight that. She wanted to enjoy it. She needed it. Loved it. She needed him.

"I don't think there's all that much on TV, but you know, we could flip through the channels and see what's on -- ooh, a game show. We could watch Game Show Network, Jan. That Lingo game you like is on."

She needed the big house and the picket fence, and even the ketchup fights (although that still sounded just a little disgusting, and a lot messy). She needed the babies and the falling deeply in love and the normalcy, and... she needed it all with him. She almost gasped at the implication. The implication of three words that she'd been terrified to give back to him. The three words that she was now feeling in every inch of her body.

"Oh look, Jan, 'Steel Magnolias' is on. I wouldn't mind seeing that again, I guess. Or your 'Dirty Dancing' DVD is still here, we could watch that one t--"

"I love you, too." She took one brave, bold step forward after blurting that out, her eyes cemented on him, suddenly brimming over with tears as the enormity of the whole thing hit her. She was in love. She loved Michael Scott. She wanted to buy a big house and picket fence with him. She wanted to plan a wedding and be married to him. She wanted to have children with him.

His spine went ramrod stiff and he slowly turned, shock in his eyes. "What?"

"You heard me, Michael." A tear slipped down her cheek -- she was terribly, terribly in love with him -- and she strode quickly over to him, holding his gaze until they were standing toe-to-toe and she could see every fleck of color in his amazing (heartbreakingly-expressive) eyes. "I love you."

She watched his eyes sadden, saw him reach out to brush the tears from her face. "Jan? Honey, why are you crying? Is that... is that bad? Being in love with me?" He started to duck his head.

Jan caught his attention by shaking her own, "No," and stepping even closer, cupping his jaw with both hands. She turned her face up to him. She needed him. "Please kiss me."

She pulled him in as he put his hands on her waist and tugged her close. Their lips met and Jan almost gasped at the way her stomach somersaulted in response. She loved him. She was falling deeply in love. When the kiss broke, their foreheads touched and the sincerity with which he whispered, "I love you" against her lips pushed her over the edge. A sob escaped her lips and she hugged him tight.

Michael loved her unconditionally and she loved him right back just as unconditionally. She realized no matter how obnoxious he got or how inappropriately he behaved, she still wanted to be with him. She still wanted that house and picket fence with him. And she still wanted his babies.

Unconditional love. What a concept.


{x-posted to michaelandjan}
jill: the voyeur of utter destruction as beauty: strawberries / submergedcabaretlights on March 5th, 2008 07:30 am (UTC)
This made me die a little inside.
(for all the good reasons)
This was perfectly emotionally-charged. Awesome!
a.: angela; a is for angelregalish on March 10th, 2008 12:42 am (UTC)
Hehehe, thanks so much Jill! That episode was all kinds of inspirational; I'm glad you enjoyed this! :)