After a few hours of driving, Jim pulled into a parking lot to gather his thoughts before making his move. He had the vision in his head of finding out exactly which motel she'd checked into, get the room number from a bored night desk clerk, and knock on her door in some grand motion. She'd be shocked at first, of course, since she'd think that he was still at home, and then they'd speedily reconcile and be back to Scranton before sunrise.
Instead, he took out his cell phone and punched in her speed dial, sucking in a deep breath as he did so. One ring. Two rings. Three rings. He heard a click on the other end. "Hey," he said, exhaling.
"Jim?" Her voice sounded quavery, as though she had been crying - or maybe she was just tired.
"Yeah. It's me.""
"Is everything okay?" He heard a rustling in the background. "It's almost midnight."
"I don't think I'm that far from where you are."
"Oh? You drove all the way down here." She sounded almost incredulous.
"Yes. I did."
That was the thousand, million, billion dollar question; in it, hung their entire relationship, their engagement, their future. "Can I see you?"
She sighed into the receiver. "Sure. I guess. I'm at the Red Roof Inn off the interstate." She paused, before continuing, "It's room 218."
Pam snapped her phone shut and eased out of the bed, shuffling over to the easy chair by the door. Only Jim. Their communication embargo of the past few days had worn on her, and his voice over the phone was warm and inviting.
Some part of her was almost ready to go home. And yet, as she'd awoken each morning this week, she hadn't even entertained the thought of redirecting her car toward Scranton.
A knock sounded at her door; she looked through the peephole and saw him standing in the sickly light of the hallway, hands folded behind his back.
She wasn't sure what to expect when she opened the door; he enveloped her in a crushing hug, his arms wrapped tightly around her torso, and she could only close her eyes and hope that the tears that were welling up wouldn't betray her now.
They sat on the bed, Pam sitting where the sheets were crumpled and Jim sitting on the other side, their hands interlinked. "It's good to see you," she said, breaking the silence.
"I came because I had to," he said, answering the question he'd left unanswered on the phone, "because I was worried about you and I love you and I didn't want to be separated from you anymore."
"What's going to happen to us in the future, though?" she asked, gnawing thoughtfully on her bottom lip.
"We'll figure it out when we get there." He grasped her hand tighter and looked at her. "It's natural for first-time parents to be nervous."
"Why aren't you more nervous then?"
"Because I know we'll be amazing, and even if we aren't, our son or daughter is going to look at us like we're the center of their universe, and any small mistakes we make won't matter."
She found herself smiling at his statement. "You're right." She squeezed his hand, feeling some of the tension from the past few days melting away.
"Should we get some sleep, so we can leave in the morning?"
"That sounds like a good idea," she said with a barely stifled yawn, looking at the clock, "seeing as how it's almost two."
Sunlight peeked through the blinds, and Jim woke up to find that over the course of the night, they had gravitated to a position where she was facing him, their arms wrapped around each other's waists, their legs intertwined, and she was murmuring something about "Jim, not the football," under her breath.
He kissed her forehead and moved one of his hands up from her waist to smooth down her frizzy morning hair. "Good morning," he said.
She opened her eyes. "Good morning," she repeated.
"The best sleep I've had in a while," she said, with a large smile on her face, "but I think I'm ready to go home now."
"Are you sure? We could stay down here for another day or two, if you wanted."
"I'm ready to go home, Jim," she repeated.
"Then, let's go home."
She looked in her rearview window as they drove along the interstate back to Scranton, him following behind her. He held a thumbs-up out the window, and she honked her horn in return.
She knew she was ready now, and he had been ready, and it was time for them to enter their future - together.
Author's Note: Not quite two years later, this is finally finished! Thank you so much to everyone who's ever read this, all of the reviewers and people who favorited this and put it on alert - I doubt it would have ever been finished without all of you.