That night you lie awake in bed, way too late, thinking it all over. You can't quite stop hoping Pam will call.

Or maybe show up at the front door?

But she doesn't. On the bright side, Roy doesn't show up to try to kick the crap out of you, either.

But it's better now, knowing. Knowing that there's something there. That you finally told her. Knowing how good it could be, if only she'd--

You used to feel guilty about Roy. But you never meant to fall in love with Pam. And after a while it was hard to keep feeling guilty, or even jealous. Roy was just...criminally negligent. Didn't know what he had. Didn't deserve her.

And he still doesn't deserve her. Just last week, he came up from the warehouse at lunchtime to hang around at the reception desk. Pam was trying to talk to him about the wedding, some detail you couldn't hear. But the tone of her voice was excited and happy.

You heard his response loud and clear: "That's the stupidest thing I ever heard. You gotta stop watching those retarded wedding planner TV shows, babe."

You couldn't stop yourself from looking up. And you accidentally caught her eye.

She'd looked completely crushed. And then she'd looked away.

You could barely even talk to her for the rest of that day, because you couldn't trust yourself not to say something you'd regret.

But that next morning, she'd smiled at you, and she'd already sent you five silly, pointless emails by the time you sat down and logged in. And just like that, you went back to being head over heels.

And that hasn't changed. Nothing has changed, really, except now she knows how you feel. And you know what it's like to kiss her.

You turn over in bed, and finally chase that single, warm memory down into sleep.


The next morning you're exhausted but euphoric, buzzed on a mix of sleep deprivation and nervous infatuation, like being back in high school.

Pam looks tired, too. But she smiles when she sees you, a real smile.

Like she's happy. Happy to see you.

You wink at her. You'd stop and talk to her, but it would be too hard to hide the way you feel right now, and you're not alone in the office. Better to wait it out, let her make the first move. You just nod as you walk by.

Log in. Business as usual. Check the email. Lots of spam. Couple of real emails. Nothing from her.



You make it till noon, and just when you're about to get up and go lean on the reception counter, maybe try to think of something charming-yet-funny to say about the whole thing, your email notifier pops up. From her. You can't double-click it fast it enough.

I need more time. I'm sorry.

Well. Okay.

That's better than 'no' or 'last night was a mistake' or 'here's your restraining order'. Right?

You click Reply.

All the time you need. Don't apologize.


Thursday. Nothing.

Friday. Nothing.

She doesn't avoid you, exactly. You don't avoid her, exactly. But there's no way you can joke about little stuff right now, no way you can pretend you're not hanging on every look she gives you, or lunging for the mouse every time you get new mail.

You don't want to rush her. But time is ticking away. Time spinning down to her wedding, to your trip to Australia, to your transfer and your lives veering away from each other. Doesn't she realize?

And then Roy shows up a few minutes before five on Friday afternoon, waiting for Pam to get ready to leave.

You hadn't seen him at all this week, and it makes you feel a little sick now, watching him stand there, all impatient and oblivious. And she's still going home with him. Every night. You kind of hate him. A lot.

But--did she throw a last, desperate look your way when she was leaving with him, or was that your imagination?

You spend a miserable weekend alone. You're starting to forget exactly what she said to you, that night. Maybe that was partly just your imagination, too. Maybe she's not really thinking things over; maybe she's just putting off telling you the truth because she doesn't want to have to hurt your feelings. Maybe, in all the distraction with planning her wedding, she just plain forgot about you. The thought's an icy stab in your chest. But what if it's true? What if--and this has been your biggest, darkest fear all along--what if she really does just think of you as a silly kid with a crush...when she thinks of you at all?

What if...


Monday. Nothing.

Tuesday afternoon, you start to type her an email. Your thoughts have gotten pretty grim, and text seems safer right now than face-to-face.


I'm not rushing you, but--


My flight leaves in a few days. You know that, right?


Hey, how's it going? You're never going to believe what Jan told me about Michael...


Pam, this isn't fair. Just tell me the truth...I can handle it...


Tom Cruise: celebrity nutjob or future savior of humanity? Really, think about it.



Select All. Delete.

She glances at you once in a while. Your peripheral vision is well-tuned. You don't have to look up to know when she's looking your way.

Get Mail. You have no new messages. Repeat.

The main line rings. Pam answers it. You listen to her voice, like always, but not necessarily to her words--because this is, after all, Dunder-Mifflin; there aren't a lot of incoming calls that rank high on the entertain-o-meter.

So a minute later, it takes your brain an instant-replay to realize what you just heard:

"The date? June 10th." Her voice is low, she's trying to be quiet, but that date's like a radar beacon to your ears. You have to strain to hear the rest of it: "Yes, this coming Saturday? Sorry?...MasterCard. Let me get the card number--sorry, I know I should have had this ready...What? That's not what I was told..."

You can't not look up. She's digging around in her purse.

June 10th. June 10th. June-goddamn-tenth. You hadn't heard her say that date all week.

You get that same feeling in the pit of your stomach you got the night they set the date, only now it's about five thousand times worse. The pencil in your clammy hand is in danger of breaking in half. You let it go, and it clatters onto the desk and rolls lazily onto the floor.

Your hands go automatically to your pockets. Keys, check. Wallet, check. Don't need anything else. Shove your chair back, get up, start walking. Past the reception desk--don't look--stairs, parking lot. Car. Hands are shaking, hard to get the door unlocked.

Inside the car. You take a deep breath. Stupid dashboard is clanging at you to put on the seatbelt. Another breath.

There'd be something romantic about driving off and pulling a James Dean, but you don't really own the right car for that. It'd just be pathetic. Like this whole, huge, stupid thing.

But you can't go back inside, either.

You fumble the key into the ignition and are about to put the car in gear when a flash across the rearview mirror catches your eye--someone walking behind the car.

And around to the passenger side.

Knocking on the window. Leaning down to look inside, at you.

It's Pam.

She tries to open the door but it's still locked. You have to think for a full second or two about whether you're unlocking it or not; whether you want to hear what she has to say. Whether you really want to end up crying in front of her again.

"Come on, Jim. Open up. Please?"

You push the button. Click.

She slides in next to you and shuts the door. "Jim--"

"I'm done, Pam."

"Jim, listen."

"No, I'm done. I'm done with today. This day sucks. I'm done sitting in that office and checking my email every ten seconds while I listen to you plan your wedding. I'm done trying to figure out what's going on with you. I'm sorry, I didn't want to rush you, but I've been sitting around for a week, which doesn't sound like that long, but when you're about to get married and I'm about to--"

"I know, I'm sorry--"

"I mean, I'm sorry if I came on too strong or I caught you off guard, but you were there too. You said you needed time. So now it actually comes down to it and you don't feel the same way? Fine, I get it, it happens. But all you had to do was tell me." Your eyes are stinging, but you keep it held back, this time. The anger helps. "So have your wedding, have your life the way you want it. Because I really do want you to be happy. I just--can't be around for it."

Your heart is pounding, and you've got a cold, sick sweat going. Hands resting on the steering wheel. You want to be driving now, alone. You wish your flight was leaving today. You don't want to hear what she has to say next, but you can't help wondering how she's going to rephrase 'I just want to be friends' this time.

What she actually says is: "Are you finished?"

You swallow. Nod.

"The wedding's cancelled."


"That was the VA on the phone." She laughs darkly. "They're keeping my deposit."

You automatically look at her hands. The engagement ring's gone. How long has it been gone? You hadn't even thought to look till now. And somehow you managed not to notice how tired and stressed she looks today.

It's not often you find yourself speechless.

She continues: "I, um, told Roy...over the weekend, night before last?...that I wasn't sure marriage was really what I wanted right now...because I'm not sure...and--"


"So he, um, broke these plates we bought when we moved in together. We bought them at Target, you know? I guess those plates symbolized our whole relationship to him or something."

"God, I'm sorry..."

"No, you don't get it. They were just...plates."

"I'm sorry," you repeat, for different reasons.

"Then he went out and got drunk with his brother."


"And went home with a Hooters waitress. Or that's what he told his brother to tell me, anyway. And...I haven't seen him since." She frowns. "I've got a bunch of angry voicemails from his family, though. They haven't actually used the word 'whore' yet, but I think they're working themselves up to it."

You wince. It's almost funny, but it's also deathly serious; this is her life lying before you in pieces and you can see how much every word is costing her. Right or wrong, you helped cause it.

And you still don't know what to say. I love you. You did the right thing. He doesn't deserve you. You can sleep on my couch.

Hey, how 'bout that Tom Cruise guy? Weirdo or what?

They all seem like bad choices.

"Listen," you say carefully, "I don't have to do this Australia thing."

"Yes, you do," she murmurs.

"No, I don't. I'm not gonna leave you here to deal with all this by yourself."

"No," she says slowly. "I really think you should go. And it'll give it all some time to...blow over."

"Blow over?" You don't like the sound of that, much. "How much does Roy actually know?"

She meets your eyes for the first time. She looks worried. "Your name didn't come up. I really don't want it to."

Hard to know how to take that. You sigh. "And that's why you want me to go to Australia? So no one, what...draws any awkward conclusions?"

She frowns; her eyes go glassy and you realize she's on the verge of crying. "This isn't just about you," she says.

You shake your head. Okay, Halpert, you're blowing this one. Again. "I'm sorry. You're right. I just...I'm sorry. It's not all about me. But I'm here, and I'm part of it. And if you want me to go to Australia because you want me to leave you alone--well, I can do that whether I go to Australia or not. You just have to tell me. Do you want me to leave you alone?"

The tears are welling up in earnest now, and she looks out the passenger window again. It's hard not to touch her, to at least put a hand on her shoulder.

"I don't know if you've noticed," she says, a catch in her voice, "but I'm not that good at talking about my feelings."

You laugh, and so does she. She sniffles. But she still won't look at you, and you're still afraid to touch her.

"I've been thinking about it," she continues, "and I think I'm not good at talking about my feelings because no one else was ever really interested before."

Her voice finally breaks. So you lean over and put an arm around her. But she starts crying harder, so you pull her to you as best you can in the little car, and she cries into your shoulder. The gear shift digs into your lower ribcage in a really painful spot and you don't care at all.

"I'm scared," she says, finally.

"I know," you murmur. And she's not the only one.

But she stops crying soon after; she pulls away from you. She wipes her eyes and laughs. "I can't believe they're keeping my deposit. And it's funny, but that's the thing I'm most upset about right now. That doesn't make much sense, does it?"

"If there's anything I can do to help you out right now--just as a friend--you've gotta tell me."

She looks at you. There's an unfamiliar sense of determination in her eyes. "You should go ahead and go on your trip."

You hold a breath, let it out. "Okay."

"Okay. Thank you. That'll be better." Then, like she's talking to herself: "I think it'll be better that way."

She opens the car door. But before she gets out, she turns back to face you and says, with just a tiny waver of uncertainty:

"I'll still be here when you get back."

The door closes behind her.

"Okay," you say aloud, to the now-empty car.


Tuesday night, lateish, and you really should be packing. But instead you lie flat on your back on your bed and stare up at the popcorn ceiling, thoughts spinning and spiralling.

She's not getting married. Or she says she's not getting married. You should be ecstatic. But she wants you to go on your trip. And that paranoid, insecure part of your mind that's still hanging around says: What if she's just getting you out of the way? What if the wedding's really still happening?

But that's stupid. Pam wouldn't do that to you.

Would she?

I'll still be here when you get back. What did that mean, exactly?

Whatever it meant, at least she's not marrying Roy.

Or so she says.

Your mind's always had a tendency to get caught in these what-if circles, which can make it hard to get anything done. This is something you've just recently realized about yourself.

And so: you make yourself sit up. You stare at the empty suitcase and the duffel bag sitting open next to each other on the carpet.

"I should pack," you say out loud, like that'll help you get motivated.

But what to pack? You don't know. The closest you've been to Australia is an Outback Steakhouse. And you've avoided doing any research about the trip so far. Maybe because you never really believed you were going. And a big, big part of you doesn't really want to. It's not just the Pam thing. A part of you gets very...uncomfortable when you think about the trip too much. It's not the flight, or the distance, or even being alone in a foreign country.

It's just...breaking your routine.

Not for the first time, you think about hiding out in a Motel 6 somewhere outside town and just telling everyone you went to Australia. But that wouldn't really be that much different.

So you start packing.

Or, at least, you stand up and walk over to your closet. But your cellphone rings. And it's Pam's ringtone.

You dive for it.

"Pam? Everything okay?" It's a stupid way to answer the phone, but you suddenly had these images in your head of Roy getting violent.

"What?" she says. "Hi. Yes. I mean, I guess, how are you?"

You catch your breath and sit down on the edge of the bed. Trying to keep your voice even, you say, "I'm good. I'm packing for the trip."

"Oh. That's good."

"Seriously--are you all right?"

"I'm fine. I mean, I'm not fine fine, but I'm...okay. My Mom got into town a few hours ago. She's helping me take care of some stuff."

"Oh. That's good."

Awkward silence on the line. So you ask, "Did you need something?"

"What? No, I mean, I can let you go, if you're busy. Packing."

"No! No, I just--well, things are a little weird between us right now--yeah, that's an understatement, I know--and I wasn't sure if maybe there was a specific reason you were callling. But there doesn't have to be. A specific reason. Oh my God somebody shut me up."

She laughs, and you do, and it breaks the tension a little. You lie back on the bed. "Doesn't have to be a reason," you repeat. "I'm just glad to hear your voice."

You hear her take a deep breath. "Okay. But the truth is, I did want to ask you something."

"Go for it."

Silence. Which goes on for a while. "Pam, you still there?"

"How long has it been? Really?"

"How long has what been?" But suddenly, you know what she's going to say.

"How long have you...felt this way about me?"

You wince, and you're kind of glad she can't see your face. "I, uh, you really want to ask me that?"

She laughs. But then she says, "Yeah. I do. It's just...something my Mom said got me thinking about it."

You swallow. Your heartrate's way up and a hot feeling is crawling up the back of your neck. "What did she say?"

"Come on, Jim. Just tell me. Please?"

"It's been a long time," you say softly.

"How long?"

You sigh. "Since the beginning."

Silence. "So. That's, like, over three years."

"I guess. Sorry. That sounds pretty bad, I know. I mean, it's not like I spent every single hour pining over you, okay? It really just kinda started out as a crush, and it's only recently that..."

"No, it doesn't sound bad."

"Why did you want to know?"

" Mom, um, pointed out that Roy didn't propose until after I met you. Like, right after."

"That's interesting. I guess." You really don't want to talk about Roy right now. And you're not sure what the order of events was anyway. She was just 'The New Girl' and then she was 'Pam' and then she was 'Pam, who is engaged and who I have a crush on.'

"She says she remembers very clearly that one day I started talking about this guy at my new job, right? And not long after that I was calling to tell her I was engaged."

"Oh. Okay, I get it. Um. That's weird? Like, how would Roy know...anything? Not that there was much to know at that point."

"She thinks it was just subconscious for him. Like maybe I started dressing up more for work, wearing more makeup...or something."

You grin. "Did you?"

"See, that's the thing. I don't remember. And I don't really remember talking to her about you that long ago. But she swears I did. So apparently...maybe...I've got a knack for selective memory." She laughs without mirth.

"And you think Roy only proposed because he was suddenly--subconsciously--worried he was going to lose you?"

"I don't know. I don't know what to think."

"I'm really sorry if I caused all this--"

"Stop. What is it you're always telling me? 'Don't apologize'."

"Fair enough."

"Although I kind of feel like I owe you an apology. I mean. I didn't intentionally lead you on, but..."

"It's okay. But, um, Pam?"


"Do you think you're ever going to give me even a hint about how you feel about me now? Because if I have to go all the way to Australia without knowing I think I'm gonna lose it."

She's quiet a moment. Your heart's beating like crazy, and your whole face feels hot now.

She says, "Can I tell you a secret instead?"

You exhale. "Yes. Tell me."

There's another long pause on the line, then she says, "I used to fantasize about this."


"Talking to you on the phone."

You can't help it; you burst out laughing. "You're kidding."

"Sometimes--when I couldn't sleep?--I used to lie in bed and wish I could just pick up the phone and call you."

You laugh again. "You could have, you know."

"No, I couldn't."

"No, I guess not. But I wish you would have anyway."

"I do too."

You're both quiet, and you lie there smiling into the phone. "Pam..." you murmur.

"I don't think I'm going to be able to see you before you leave," she says quickly. "I know it's not till day after tomorrow, but I've just got so much to do...I think cancelling a wedding is, like, more work than planning one. And I don't know which one of us is keeping the apartment. I'm taking off work tomorrow to deal with some of this stuff. So I won't see you there. And tomorrow night..."

"It's okay," you say, even though you're hugely disappointed. "I understand. I'll see you when I get back."

"Yeah. But, Jim?"


"Can I call you again tomorrow night? So I can talk to you before you go?"

You laugh. "Absolutely."

You say goodbye, and you disconnect.

And then you finish packing.


As it turns out, you hear from Pam sooner than you were expecting. You get your usual 11:00 bag of chips from the machine, and sit back down to find your email notifier blinking.

Hey! I need your airline and flight numbers. I found this site that lets you track, how fast they're going, altitude, when they land and takeoff and stuff. So I can at least check in on you that way.

Don't read too much into that.

Got to go down to the UPS office...mailing back wedding presents. Wish I could keep the TiVo Aunt Janie sent. I mean, she's pretty forgetful these days. But that would be dishonest. Right?

I'll call you later.


You read the email half a dozen times, grinning. She's starting to sound like herself again already.

With the added bonus of I'll call you later.


But now it's well after midnight, and she still hasn't called. You lie in bed in the dark, because you have to be at the airport in five hours, but it's not like you can sleep.

You open and close your cellphone a few times. Once, you bring up her number on the screen. But you don't actually call. It still feels kind of wrong, you calling the house. Even if Roy, as far as you know, doesn't live there anymore.

After a while you almost start to doze off. When the cellphone does ring, you jump.


"Hey," she says. She sounds stressed.

"Everything all right?"

"Um, yeah..."


She sighs. "Um, huge fight with Roy. He just left."

You sit up in bed. "What did you fight about? The apartment?" "No. He says he doesn't want the apartment. He'd rather live in his brother's basement than actually have to take care of this place, I guess."

"So what then?"

"He...he said he wanted me back. He said he didn't care if we didn't get married right now. He said he didn't really sleep with a Hooters waitress. Um, you can imagine the rest."

" said..."

"I don't really want to go into it right now. But...well, he wasn't very happy when he left."

"Um. Is he going to come looking for me?"

She laughs darkly. "No. I kept you out of it."


"I missed seeing you today," she says.

You settle back down in the bed and stretch out. "I missed seeing you too." It feels so good to be able to say even that much. "I had to have Eleven O'Clock Chips all by myself."

"What did you get?"

"Barbecue Fritos."

She gasps. "Heathen!"

"I'm all about taking risks now."

"Yeah," she says. "I can see that. But still...Fritos? Barbecue?"

"Don't kid yourself. I've had my eye on them for a while. I was just waiting for the right moment, you know, when I could get them alone..."

She laughs. It is, you think to yourself, quite possibly the best sound in the whole world.

"I can't believe you're going to be gone for so long," she says.

"I could still back out," you say, maybe a little too quickly.

"No. No backing out now."

"You sure?"

She just laughs. Then she says: "Look, Jim...there's something I kind of need you to understand..."


"Roy wasn't always the way he is." She sighs. "Okay, maybe he was, but the point is, there were good things about him. There still are."

"I believe you," you say. "Where's this going?"

"I just feel like, sometimes, maybe you thought less of me because I was with him at all. And it made me mad."

"I never thought less of you. I just didn't like the way he treated you. Whether I had a thing for you or not."

"We were together for a long time. You just get used to things being a certain way."

"Believe me, I get that. And I never thought less of you." It might be a lie, but if so it's just a tiny, white one.

"Okay. Well, that's good."

"Okay," you say.

"Um...I should let you get some sleep."

"I can sleep on the plane."

"Well, I should get some sleep. Back to the grind for me tomorrow."

"Right. Well, I'd say I'll call you from Australia, but I have no idea if my phone will work there. Wait, do they even have phone service in Australia?"

She laughs. "You're really going into this blind, huh?"

"Like I said...all about the risks."

"Sure, Halpert. We'll see."

"Will we?"


"You know, I really don't want to hang up."

"I don't either, but I have to. Email me? I'm pretty sure they have Internet there."

"I will."

"Goodnight, then. Have a safe trip. Have fun."

"I will. Goodnight, Pam."

You disconnect.

So she's done with Roy for good, it sounds like. She's talking about him in the past tense. But she's still working at the same building with him every day. And you wish, not for the first time, that you weren't leaving; you don't think Roy is the type to get really abusive, or start harassing her, but how can anyone ever really tell?

But you're not sure how Pam would react if you started acting like it was your responsibility to protect her.

Even if you secretly feel that it is.

What if he tries to hurt her? What if I come back and he's just pushed her so much that she gives in and they're back together? What if they go ahead and get married?

Why does she want me to go on this trip so badly?


The cellphone, which you never bothered to put down, starts ringing in your hand. Pam's ringtone.


"Hi," Pam's voice is soft, almost pleading. "I can't sleep."

"Aha, I see. And now you can call me when that happens."

"Yeah. So. I hope you don't mind."

You laugh; you grab another pillow and prop it under your head.

"Well, as luck would have it, I can't sleep either..."


When the alarm goes off, you roll over onto something small and hard.

The phone. You must have fallen asleep talking to Pam. The last thing you can remember is a round of 'No, you hang up first', which had started out a little sarcastic--making fun of the kind of people who would do something so sickeningly cutesy--and somehow ended up way too sincere by the end. You're not sure who won. Maybe neither of you.

You've got that exhausted/euphoric feeling going again, and you decide to hold off on the coffee because there's no telling what that might do to you in yuor current state.

The taxi arrives on time. Airport security doesn't take nearly as long as you expected, so you find yourself wandering aimlessly around the terminal ninety minutes before your flight's actually supposed to leave. You settle into a chair in the nearest row and put on your mp3 player. Twenty hours in the air, with a layover in Los Angeles, and you're really wishing now you would have slept in a little later.

Twenty hours on an airplane. What the hell was I thinking?

All you can think about is getting to a hotel that has Internet access and emailing Pam. It's going to be a long freakin' twenty hours.

You slump down further in the chair and turn up the music to drown out the noise of the PA system. You put on your sunglasses and close your eyes. Maybe you can just doze off a little here...

A little while later, you're half-asleep when you feel the row of seats shift as someone sits down near you. No, they're sitting next to you. You keep your eyes closed, hoping they'll go away, or at least not try to talk to you.

Instead, they start tapping you. On you the shoulder. The hell? You take off your sunglasses, sit up, and open your eyes.

But your eyes try to deliver a whole lot of information to your brain that just doesn't make any sense.

For one thing, it's Pam.

Which means that she's here in Philly, when she's supposed to be at work in Scranton not too long from now.'s Pam. Here. You blink a few times and look around to make sure you're awake.

"Surprise?" She's got a huge grin on her face, mixed with the tiniest bit of apprehension. And tiredness. "I can't believe you fell asleep while we were talking. Technically, I really think that counts as hanging up first, lose."

"Pam...jeez, what are you doing here?" Your grin's as big as hers now. "Is this the part where you beg me not to leave? Or are you just here to say goodbye?"

"'s neither." And she reaches down to hold an object up in front of you, another piece of information your eyes have been trying, and failing, to bring to the attention of your brain.

It's a big backpack.

It''s...carry-on luggage.

Still not making much sense. "You're leaving? Where are you going?"

She gives you a look, a look you know very, very well. It's the look she has when she puts one over on you at the office, when she's the one who comes up with the reallygood trick to play on Dwight, when she's the one who can manipulate Michael better than anybody. It's the look she has when she kicks your ass at poker.

It's the look she has when she's totally sure of herself, which isn't that often.

The look says: Right now? You have to admit I'm fabulous.

You love that look.

And right now, there's only one thing it could possibly mean.

"You''re not really...this is a joke, right?"

She holds up the other hand. An itinerary, which she hands to you. The airline and flight number are the same as your own.

"You know what'll be really ironic?" she says. "If we end up at opposite ends of the planes for twenty hours." She shrugs and grins again. "I couldn't think of a way to get you to tell me your seat number."

It takes you so long to think of anything to say that she starts to look concerned.

She says, finally, "This is okay...isn't it? I mean, I already had most of the vacation time scheduled anyway, and Mom's going to stay at my place for now. I'll pay my own way and everything...I'm already so far in credit card debt over the wedding it's not going to make any difference. And, I mean, no one has to know, if that's what you're worried about. Mom's going to tell people I'm visiting a cousin in Indiana." She looks at you with big eyes. "Is this weird? I really didn't want it to be weird. I just thought it would be nice to get away. From...everything. And I couldn't think of anyone I'd rather do that with."

You stand up and pull her to her feet and take her in your arms. You hold her tightly. She holds back.

After a long moment, she pulls away, but holds on to your hand. "So I guess this is okay, then?"

"This," you say, "is going to be awesome."


Your assigned seats aren't anywhere near each other, but the plane is half-empty and the flight attendant caves after Pam has a whispered conversation with her. On the way back down the aisle, she winks at you.

You're still wondering if it's all a dream, even as you both stow your bags and belt in.

And later, as the plane starts to taxi, Pam slips her hand into yours.

"I can't believe we're doing this," she says, over the sound of the engines.

"I can't believe you're here," you say. "I keep trying to figure out if I'm dreaming."

"Let me know when you figure it out," she says, smiling.

So you lean over and kiss her as the plane climbs into the sky. Just a quick, soft kiss, but it's enough. Enough to make you remember every detail of the first time you kissed her. That night, that stupid Casino Night at the office. All you'd meant to tell her was that you were thinking of transferring, but different words had come out instead. And then you went for broke.

You never imagined it would pay off like this.



"What do people do on vacation in Australia?"

"I have no idea. I've never done this sort of thing before."

"Good," she says. "Neither have I."