Jim Halpert is afraid of flying.
It is this fact alone that means the Florida cousins have to visit Pennsylvania more often, because when the Halperts have to make the trip, they do so by car. Betsy and Gerald can only take so many trips with four adolescents in a crowded van arguing over snacks and seating arrangements and extra batteries for their Walkmans.
It is this fact that means most of the Halpert vacations over the years have been within a day’s driving distance. After the first traumatic incident of having to emergency land the plane in Richmond on the way to Disney World to stop the anxiety attack that spurred on breathing problems and ear splitting screams from six year old Jimmy, the poor Halpert clan was a little embarrassed to show their faces at an airport again.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” he’s told anyone who asks. “A jet plane weighs almost two-hundred-thousand pounds. How in the hell is it able to...defy the laws of physics like that? There’s no way. No. Way.”
Jim likes to think of himself as a logical, rational man. But he still cannot get past the fact that planes are up in the air, traveling at almost a thousand miles per hour, while Newton’s Laws keep him rooted to the gravel.
Jim Halpert is afraid of flying.
Which he doesn’t take into account when he books his non-refundable ticket to Australia, where he’ll have to be on a flight for almost twenty-four hours, including two transfers. He’ll have to force himself onto one plane just to get off and board another.
But while he is certainly scared to death of the big metal bird going down, the laws of physics crumbling around him, and ending up like the tailies from Lost, there is one thing in life that terrifies him more.
Seeing Pam Beesly walk down the aisle toward a man that is not him.
He cannot physically stomach the thought of her marrying another man, let alone picture himself being there to witness it, to allow that union to take place without jumping up from his seat to spill his guts and beg her not to.
She looked so pretty at their work fundraiser. She must’ve taken extra time to curl her hair and do her makeup before slipping into that dress that twinkled like a clear night sky and reminded him of a delicate flower. But she’d gone home early with Roy under the guise of cake tasting in the morning and not wanting to lose too much money playing poker. After all, they had a wedding to pay for. He spent the rest of the night too sober as he cleaned out his coworker’s pockets and put his winnings towards the hefty ticket to a continent out in the middle of the Pacific.
He was pouting, and he knew well and true that he was acting like a petulant child. Sure, he was claiming too many unused vacation days and wanting to see the world, but he knew in his heart that he wouldn’t see much more of his hotel room and the screen of his phone while he waited for her not to call him.
He’d driven himself to Philly the night before his flight and stayed in the airport Marriot, getting absolutely no sleep, his anxieties manifesting as planes that circled slowly before crashing, their flames playing out a scene that began with Do you take Pamela Morgan Beesly and ended with I now pronounce you Mister and Missus Roy Anderson. He debated emptying the stocked fridge of its alcohol, but thought better of it when he pictured himself using an entire row of barf bags on his first leg of the flight.
His knee bounces erratically as he waits in the terminal an hour before the flight. With no sleep in his system, he’d lofted his body through the airport ridiculously early, wondering if baggage claim would put a tag on him and make him ride in the cargo hold from the sheer weight that he’d be carrying on. He prayed that security would see him as a foreign threat and refuse him a seat on the plane, but with no luck, he paid for an extra large Dunkin iced coffee and sunk miserably into an uncomfortable chair, musing that the waiting room at Geisinger was more hospitable than this.
He forces himself to watch the planes take off out the large wall of windows before he has to force himself to stop watching planes take off for fear that he might pee his pants. His coffee is long gone and he can’t stomach the thought of food right now. He can’t concentrate on the spy novel that he’d packed in his carry on. Every song on his fully charged iPod has some connection to her, so it finds its way to the bottom of his backpack. Finally, with his mind racing and his nerve endings needing some sort of creative outlet, he lofts out his laptop.
He has a few different DVDs packed for the ride, planning on using them if the in flight option isn’t up his alley or in his hotel when he runs out of excuses to not leave the room or when his cocktail of sleeping medication and anxiety pills runs out. He wonders briefly if the right dosage will knock him out for the entire plane, imaging himself playing chemist with an eight ounce plastic cup and a couple of airplane shooters. The hefty price might just be worth it if he can manage an entire twenty-four hours without picturing her face on the backs of his eyelids.
As he powers up the device, the Outlook app is still open from the night before. He had printed extra copies of his boarding pass at the hotel desk and gone over his entire itinerary until he had it memorized--which, in all reality, hadn’t taken him too long. His plans so far include getting from Pennsylvania to Australia, and then from the airport to the hotel by a car service that is less sketchy than an Aussie cab.
Acting of its own accord, his hand opens an old email thread.
He has had her personal email address since his third month at Dunder Mifflin. She was hosting a housewarming party at her new place with Roy, and though the meaning behind the event made him bury himself in a bottle of whiskey, the prospect of being in her house and seeing her outside of work outweighed the tightness in his chest. Plus, he’d been curious to see how Roy Anderson lived, wanting to confirm a few suspicions of his own.
He’d used that email address--the personal one that she checked at home from her own laptop--over the years, before they both had unlimited texting. He’s saved every single one of their messages, whether it was a silly email forward, a holiday greeting, or a weekend where Roy had been away and (in his opinion) she’d been too afraid to just call.
The one that sticks out, that he has memorized word for word and comma for comma, he is absolutely certain she typed while drunk. The time stamp of one-thirty-seven a.m. was his first clue. The frequent typos were his second.
The solidifying factor had been her burning red cheeks that following Monday, the whispered apology of Must’ve had too much wine, I’m so sorry Jim before he let her off the hook immediately and spent the next three weeks puffing up his own ego at the fact that when her inhibitions had been lowered, she’d been thinking of him.
He doesn’t need to reread it--because it is etched into his brain so well that he could recite it typo for typo to the older gentleman sitting next to him--but he does anyway. He needs something to calm the rapid beat of his heart, to prevent it from bursting out of his chest, growing legs, and leaving this goddamn airport.
Ironically, in a time of needing someone to stop his heart from racing so fast, he chooses the one person who gives its beating a purpose on a daily basis.
(three exclamation points. Was that the alcohol, or was she just that excited to be emailing me?)
How are you???? I’m good. Prettrty good.
(I’m glad. Are you “pretty good” because of wine though?)
Its FRIDA!!!! What are you up to???
(Biding my time until I get to see you again on Monday).
I hope your having fun, jiM.
You desreve to have fun.
YOU desre so much fun.
(Please tell me more).
So much. I wihs we could hang out!!!
(God, you have no idea).
That would be fun.
(It would be).
What would we do???
(It doesn’t matter. You being here is all I want).
You would find omething fun for us to do.
(I try, but it’s so easy to do when you’re around me).
I always have fun when im with you.
(Me too, Pam. Me too).
The email ends with no signature, like the wine had run off with the rest of her thoughts.
His entire body is warm, like her drunken words have manifested themself from Times New Roman font and wrapped him like a weighted blanket. He takes a deep, cleansing breath, knowing that when he opens his eyes, he will be in the middle of an airport again. Somehow, the Reply button is pressed, and a draft opens, the subject line reading RE: JIM!!! HI!!!
He’d never responded to the message initially. After spending an exhausting Saturday and Sunday mulling over its implications, by the time he finally saw her on Monday, it was easier to talk about it in person. He wonders now, his body finally warm and rigid for a reason that has nothing to do with flying, what she would think if an email were to suddenly arrive in response to something she’d drunkenly sent two years ago.
His fingers hover over the keyboard. He still has an hour to kill before his flight begins boarding, and as his thoughts curl around all of his fears, he realizes something:
If this plane, or the next one he boards, or the flights on his way home crash, she will never know just how much he loves her.
It’s a selfish grip of his heart. Does she truly need to know? When she’s planning a wedding and seemingly happy?
But then, he remembers the look on her face when she’d turned down the art internship (he would have encouraged her). The disappointment when Valentine’s Day came and went without so much as a bouquet of flowers (he would have showered her with affection from the moment her eyes opened until the moment her head hit his pillow that evening). That night, when the entire office had gone to Chili’s for dinner, and she’d had to fight with Roy to give up the bar for one night to be with her (he would spend every night with her if given the chance).
Maybe if she knew that someone out there existed solely just to love her, she might change her mind.
And maybe he was crazy, and planes were obviously structurally sound, and he needed to take a shot of something and relax.
But this was just an exercise. A way to calm his nerves before this flight and calm his aching heart all in one. It’s not like he would actually hit the Send button.
Hey! So, I’m sitting in the Philly airport right now waiting to board my flight for Australia. Australia! How crazy is that?! You’ll be a whole day and a half behind me soon. Maybe we can use that to mess with Dwight…
I’m rambling. Anyway. I guess I should get right to the point. I’m afraid of flying. I don’t think you know that about me. Did you know that about me? I mean, you know practically everything about me by now, but I am. Afraid of flying. Terrified of it actually. They had to emergency land our plane when I was six years old. I’m kind of freaking out right now. Pretending I’m talking to you is the one thing keeping me from puking all over the airport floor or running out the door (even if I am just typing in an old email thread. It’s the thought that counts, right?)
I don’t want to intrude. It’s the last thing that I want to do, moments before what could possibly be the most important day of your life, so I hope this isn’t crossing a line. But as I’m sitting here watching these big metal contraptions taking off into the sky--which they really shouldn’t be doing, Pam, it makes no freaking sense--I have only two thoughts on my mind.
One is that the plane I’m on is going to go down. I won’t make it to Australia. I won’t ever make it back home to all of the people that I love. You’re probably wondering, “Gee, Jim. Why did you plan an exotic vacation where you’d have to fly to the literal other side of the globe?!” And therein lies the second half of the puzzle.
The other is you.
I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if the first happened without you knowing the second. I can’t lie in saying that to say this--typing this message with your name in the address bar--outright terrifies me, so this is probably going to get really rambly really quick (you know me, I talk a lot when I’m nervous). Please bear with me. If anyone can follow my winding tangent road maps, it’s you.
I want to give you flowers, and not just for Valentine’s Day. I want to give you “you look cute today” flowers and “today is Tuesday” flowers and “it rained today” flowers.
I want to memorize every look on your face. When you see a puppy, and when you eat something sour, and when a commercial makes you sad, and when something catches you off guard. The one that you make when you’re concentrating on a painting. The one that you make after a good night kiss.
The one you make when you wake up in the morning.
I want to bring you soup when you’re sniffly, and chocolates when you’re sad, and pizza just because.
I want to be there to hold your hand for all of your biggest moments, and all of your smallest ones too. I want to encourage you to follow your dreams and be there when you finally accomplish them.
I want to know your sister more than just the stories I hear from you--but I never want you to stop telling me stories, so don’t get the wrong idea here, Beesly. Never stop telling me stories. I want you to love my little sister like your own and help me pull pranks on my brothers and watch you color with my nieces on Thanksgiving.
I want to watch TV with you until we both fall asleep on the couch at two in the morning. I want to dress up in fancy clothes and take you out and not pay any attention to what it is we’re supposed to be doing because I can’t take my eyes off of how pretty you look in that dress (and before you say “What dress, Jim?” it’s any dress. Any dress).
I want to spend lazy Sundays in our pajamas with too many coffee refills and your feet in my lap while we do absolutely nothing.
I want to get dressed just to get undressed (but that’s an entirely different email… maybe I’ll keep that one in my drafts folder… Then again, that’s where this one is staying too…)
I want to make pancakes for dinner and wake up to kiss your syrupy smile.
I love you, Pam.
I love you so much.
And if this plane does go down, then I want you to know that there is someone out there who loves you more than the world itself. So that if one day you feel like you’re not enough, you can look back and know that you are everything.
If you read this, and you still love him, then I’ve done about all that I can (I mean, aside from groveling? I could grovel. Just let me know. I’ll add it to our bucket list).
But right now, in this fake email that I’ll never send because I’m a big fat chicken, this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.
I love you, Pam. And if I survive the flight and the Australian heat and the kangaroos (I hear they box humans--maybe I’ll have a war story to bring back to Dwight), I hope you know that grilled cheese is the tip of the iceberg. It would be the greatest honor of my lifetime to make you dinner every night.
(Pancakes. Remember, we’re eating pancakes for dinner).
With all my love (and a little bit of my scaredy-cat-ness too),
He feels like he is floating, with all of this out in the open and staring back at him. For a moment, he feels a little embarrassed. He’s wanted to say it all before, in one way or another. But the words have always translated in his head, so that by the time they get to his lips, I would’ve bought you flowers turns into Happy Valentine’s Day, Beesly.
Christmas is the time to tell people how you really feel becomes It comes with bonus gifts. Look inside! as the rest of his sentiment is tucked into his back pocket.
I love you comes out as awkward silences and missed opportunities and weekends of overthinking and kicking himself.
Here though, it’s all laid out, in one way or another. It’s an odd road map, taking her from childhood trauma to a declaration of love to Hey, just in case I die…
He notices his own ramblings, and though he knows that he won’t be hitting send (the price of Wifi at this airport will cover an entire day’s worth of meals on his vacation), he feels better having this out in the open. He would call it a practice run if she wasn’t getting married in two days.
The acidity in his throat and the heavy weight in his stomach are back, and it’s a war as to what parts are Pam and what parts are We will now begin boarding flight 724-A with connecting services to Sydney. He has too much time to decide, because his last minute purchase means he is one of the last to board. His mind is so stuffed up though that his lingering thoughts as he packs his laptop and wonders if he should just get back in his car and leave and Do I have time to pee? I really need to pee... are of her bright smile the day he’d told her that he became an uncle for the first time. It’s an odd moment, but intimate enough to make him wonder if this is what they mean when they say that your life flashes before your eyes when you die.
By the grace of God, there is an empty seat between him and the gentleman next to the window. He chose the aisle seat less for the extra leg room and absolutely for its distance from said window, that he hopes and prays the gentleman will keep closed for the duration of the flight and then some. His knee is bouncing rapidly again, and he fears that he’ll trip an unassuming flight attendant, so he tucks it back in, lowering the tray table to stifle it. He slips his laptop out as a weight, since his knee is now hitting the tray table and making a racket that his neighbor is already annoyed by. He chews on his fingernails as the device boots back up, his email still front and center.
He reads it again, scrolling back up to see her words one more time before this stupid plane takes off and his entire world flips upside down. Closing his eyes, he absorbs every keystroke she’d made before a flight attendant comes by to let him know that he needs to power his laptop down and stow it beneath the seat in front of him until they reach cruising altitude.
Cruising altitude makes his stomach flip, and his fingers bump the keys frantically, doing his best to shut his computer down without making a fuss.
He could click Send, he realizes. But airline Wifi could pay for an entire trip to the Sydney Zoo (that he probably won’t be making anyway, but it’s the thought that counts).
His entire body is shaking as he swallows his sleeping pills (exactly one half more than the recommended dosage, but he’s a tall guy, so he figures it’s allowed. The next thing he knows, he is on the ground again, deplaning and boarding another one of these harrowing creatures to actually head to Australia. His body oozes relief as he realizes that he has made it through one flight and survived. Much like each time he survived another milestone in her engagement with Roy. Sure, it had been a little traumatic at first, but he had survived. That has to count for something.
On his first night in his big empty hotel room, he tries to find the drafted email. He faced his fear of flying, survived hovering above the clouds and the oceans and the baby who had cried for four solid hours of the night. He can probably face his feelings. He wants to read them again without flushing in embarrassment. Wants to make some edits and possibly some additions and save it to his desktop in case he needs it later on. When he comes up empty, he decides that he must have deleted it in his haste to shut down his computer, which is probably for the better. Maybe right now, on an entirely different continent where nothing but new adventures await him, is not the time to face another one. He’s making baby steps. And besides. The Wifi at this hotel could buy him a night’s worth of room service.
He gives himself one day of groveling in his hotel room. Australia has some interesting TV shows. He thinks of her exactly seven times before he shuts the TV off and orders room service instead, bypassing the grilled cheese for an exotic fish dish that they don’t have in Philadelphia.
He does go to the Sydney Zoo. When he sees the koalas, he turns to grin at a woman who isn’t there (because, right, she’s back home preparing for her wedding).
The beaches are warm and the sun is bright and his pasty skin only allows him a few hours at a time before he has to seek shelter or more sunscreen again. He meets a few fellow Americans at the hotel bar, and is shocked that someone from Philadelphia is actually at the same hotel as he is (then again, they’d all taken off from the same airport, so is it really that uncanny?)
He forgets which day and time her wedding is, since there’s an entire day change between them. Though it’s on the tip of his tongue every single time he passes a local to ask What’s the time change between here and Philadelphia? he resists.
In all, he has a decent amount of fun. He scolds himself for not taking in more of this beautiful place, knowing that he will likely never be back again. But it is progress in so many ways that it makes up for the two full days he spent watching American programs like Joey had on Friends.
He manages to stay awake for his first takeoff, wanting to prove to himself that he could at least watch the ground disappear from beneath his feet. After that, it had been all headphones and sleeping pills until he was safely back on his own ground.
He is exhausted. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally. He knows that landing in the States means landing in a place where her last name has changed and it isn’t his. That fear threatens to surge up his throat again, but it doesn’t get the chance to. As he adjusts his backpack on one shoulder, his eyes are drawn to one spot in the room. Then again, he shouldn't be surprised. His eyes are always drawn in her direction when she’s around.
His first thought is that she’s never looked more beautiful.
His second thought is that she has been crying. The closer he gets, the more he realizes that she very well might still be.
His suspicions are confirmed when she finally sees him break through the crowd and her entire face breaks into a sob that pinches her eyes and contorts her face into an expression that he never wants to see her wear ever again. She dashes at him faster than he expects, and the weight of her body crashing into his is so delicious that he doesn’t care that she’s almost knocked them both over.
He is buzzing. Electricity is running through his body as he realizes that she’s actually wrapped around his waist and his back and her tears are wetting his skin. He wonders for a moment if she could electrocute them both, but that thought slips when he feels words vibrating against the crook of his neck.
“Hmm?” he asks, knowing that they’ll need to separate in order for him to hear her properly. He holds onto her tighter instead, the feel of her ponytail gripped in his hand too wonderful to even think of letting go.
“Don’t you ever scare me like that again.”
She is louder now because she’s picked up her head from the heavy weight against his shoulder to look at him. Her eyes are tear streaked and her face is blotchy and yet he cannot stop smiling, because even though she’s threatening him, she’s here. In his arms. He hasn’t quite pieced together the why yet, but at this point, he absolutely does. Not. Care.
She shakes her head, letting her legs fall slowly down until she is standing on the floor. He misses her touch immediately, but she has both fists gripping his shirt before he’s even figured out what to do with his own.
“I spent the entire week wondering if your flight home would even make it. I have been on dozens of planes--we flew to Texas every year growing up, and I was still terrified. You’re lucky I didn’t fly down to Australia myself to make sure you had made it safely.”
His entire brain has been mush for the past five minutes, but somewhere in the fog, it begins to click into place.
“‘If this plane does go down?’ ‘If I survive the flight?’ Who the hell says things like that, Jim?!”
He couldn’t find the draft because somehow, he’d actually hit send. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he makes a note to check his credit card statement and figure out how much he paid for Wifi.
He feels as though he might faint, dodgeballs pelting him with she’s here and you sent the email and she knows, dude, she knows everything. The only thing holding him up is staring at him with such an intense mixture of pain and fear and love in her eyes that he doesn’t know where to start.
“I...didn’t know it sent,” he shrugs, his body not functioning properly enough to form much more than that.
“Well it did,” she insists, her brows still furrowed in an anger that he will spend the rest of his life smoothing out if he has to. “And you scared me half to death. I’ve never been afraid of planes, Jim!”
She still has his t-shirt curled in one fist, but the other is emphasizing each word with a pounding on his chest that makes his knees weak.
“I thought...if you had…”
The tears had stopped once the yelling began, but the hitch in her voice and the watering of her eyes is starting again, and his entire heart clenches. He grips her cheeks, his thumbs working fruitlessly to stop her tears until she starts shaking her head quickly back and forth. When she looks up into his eyes, the wide green of hers is almost blinding.
“I didn’t marry him.”
He realizes now that there is no cut into his skin from her cheap diamond ring. The bags below her eyes are weighed down with much more than a little bit of aerophobia. She looks like she hasn’t slept in almost a week’s time, and he wants to fall to his knees and apologize before she says, “I want to eat pancakes for dinner too.”
“What?” he breathes, adjusting his grip so that his hands can slide down to her shoulders and use her small frame to keep him upright.
“I want to eat pancakes for dinner. I want to hear the story about how you got kicked off a plane when you were six. I want to wake up every morning to someone who loves me like you do.”
Years of practiced silent communication between them lets their eyes do the talking since their throats are clogged with hesitant smiles and too good to be trues. She tilts toward him at the same moment that he wraps his hands around her back and pulls her close.
She doesn’t taste like syrup, but she tastes like home, and that is so much better. He is desperate to feel every inch of her, to memorize how it feels to have his entire world in his arms, when he realizes that when they let go, he will still have time. She giggles this airy sound that becomes his new favorite song, her lips releasing slowly before she sneaks back for one more intense press of their lips. It isn’t the kiss that has him dizzy, but the way that she wraps her arms around his middle, buries her head against his chest, and holds him there in a tight squeeze like she can’t ever fathom letting go.
It doesn’t take much for her to convince him that she’s coming over tonight.
I know you need to catch up on sleep, but I’ll stay on your couch. I don’t care.
He really did put the fear of God into her. He tries to apologize but she shuts him up with another grip of her arms around him, and he reassures her by holding her tight and letting her have this.
He debates leaving his car at the airport and letting her drive him home just to be near her, but that would be a really shitty rest of his weekend, and since they’re both going to the same place anyway, he settles for having her on speakerphone until his phone dies.
He is exhausted.
An entire week abroad. Too much time in the sun. Too much time trying not to think about her. Twenty-two hours on a plane, and two and a half more in a car thanks to Friday traffic. He is more than excited to call his bed home for the rest of the weekend.
Then again, home is getting out of a car he’s never seen before as it parks on the curb of his house.
She looks nervous. Her arms are crossed over her chest and she’s biting her lip. She barely gets out, “This is stupid, I should just go--” before he has her head cradled to his chest and a desperate Please don’t vibrating against the top of her head. She nods, lifting his shirt with the simple motion.
He drops his bags in the entryway. Mark is still at work, and has given him reign of the house this weekend while he “readjusts.” It is his excuse to not have to explain why he is collapsing in bed at two-thirty in the afternoon with Pam clinging to his side.
His eyes are fighting to stay open because she’s actually here, her head on his chest, determinedly stuck to his side. In the middle of June, there is more bare skin touching him than he’s ever seen before. He hasn’t even really gotten to appreciate her in shorts and a t-shirt before his body is taking over, pleading with him to shut it down for just a little while.
“I feel like this is a dream,” he mumbles, already halfway gone. “You’re not really here. You got married last week.”
He feels her head shake against him, and that is more than an inclination that he is positively wrong.
“It’s not a dream. I’m here with you. Get some sleep, okay?”
He probably nods, but doesn’t remember much more than the backs of his eyelids and the feel of her heart beating against him.
When he wakes, it is to a gentle hand shaking him. He is disoriented, the fading summer sun telling him that it is probably nearing nine p.m. When she tells him that it’s Saturday evening, that he’s slept for over twenty-four hours, he stands too quickly, dizziness dragging him right back down. She giggles, and that rights him quicker than taking his time.
“Did you leave?” he asks, realizing that she is still wearing the same clothes as yesterday. Then again, so is he. She shakes her head.
“I borrowed your toothpaste though. Hope you don’t mind.”
The thought of her tasting like his toothpaste makes his entire body tingle. The blush in her cheeks makes him warm. She gives him time to blink his eyes and adjust himself against the headboard before she kisses him, warm and melty and slow. He wonders if he is in fact still asleep, but his dreams of her have never been so lovely. Sure, there have been times where they’ve been less clothed and more intense. But here, with her in his arms, tasting like his toothpaste and smelling like his sheets, he can’t imagine a better reality.
His stomach growls and she tells him to stay where he is, reemerging with a mile high stack of pancakes and a bottle of syrup. His heart feels fuzzy as she sits next to him on his bed, the plate between them. While they eat, he tells her of his trip. The koalas that he knows are her favorite, and how he wished she could have seen them. The sunburn on his back that she promises to buy him aloe vera for (and though she doesn’t say it aloud, he can see it in her eye that she wants to promise to help him put it on too). He tells her the story of getting kicked off the plane when he was six years old, and her eyes light up the entire time.
“I didn’t know you were afraid of flying,” she admits. The way that she tucks her chin to her chest as she says it makes him tilt his head. Lifting her chin with his fingers, he strokes her cheek gently.
“I didn’t know that you and your family go to Texas every year.”
Realization trickles into her eyes.
They have time now. So much time. And with their lazy Saturday night, she tells him the story of why her family goes to Texas once a year, sharing the last of their dinner pancakes until he finally leans forward to taste her syrupy kiss.