- Text Size +
Story Notes:

Hello Again...been a while. You may think the title is about me breaking through my writer's block to get back to what I began many many months ago...or my mental block to actually begin posting again...and while it works on those levels - it is relevant to the story it just may take bit to "break through" a few chapters in.

Anyway Yikes, here I go again. 

I'll put a trigger warning here - this story has elements dealing with fertility issues and miscarriage - tread lightly if these are hard to read for you.


Author's Chapter Notes:
As mine is a UF fam, it felt traitorous to be researching and featuring Renegade (an FSU mascot) but I had to go where the canon takes me...until I no longer do...

but for now (this chapter) assume all has followed canon as best as I remember.

“Call me when you land.”

He nods as he takes his hand off the large suitcase at his side and uses it to draw her into to him. Pam, in regular fashion, raises up on her heels to bring herself up to meet his dipped head, their lips converging somewhere in the middle for a gentle, yet emotion-filled, kiss that deepens as it lingers. It was only for two weeks, and yet for Pam this goodbye felt different from any other, somehow more permanent, as if the moment he was out of sight, her whole world would be turned on its head.

Because it would be.

But she was ready this time. Hell, she was the one who set everything in motion with that first call to Carol, and yet, she presently couldn’t bring herself to break from the kiss. An irrational sensation making her feel it could be their last one kept her mouth glued on his.

Logically, she knew it wasn’t a premonition about the flight. Would she even tell him if it that’s what it was? She knew how he felt about her superstitions. But she wasn’t worried he would get to Austin safely; that wasn’t the reason she clung desperately to his lips. It was something else, something she deep down understood was her lingering anxieties about change. Their therapist had given her tools to help her through them when they reared and mostly she’d managed them. How else could she had gotten them to this point? Still sometimes, like now, the innate fears would pop in and manifest as a running stream of ominous feelings that she couldn’t completely shake.

As if serving as a subtle reminder he had a plane to catch, the Athleap bag slung over Jim’s shoulder slips down, falling into Pam as it does and knocks her off balance, off the curb and away from his lips.

“Whoops, sorry,” he chirps as he deftly pulls back the bag with one hand and steadies her with the other, dropping another quick peck on the crown of her copper-toned curls as he helps her back up onto the sidewalk.

The veil of her hair that shifted in her stumble keeps the wince on her face hidden, but her silence gives away her fluster. 

“You okay? You didn’t twist anything during your long fall off the curb? That ankle still weak after all these years?”

“No,” she gives him a playful punch. “It’s just this is getting real...”

She drops her eyes, hoping to hide the sheen she could feel begin to coat them, not wanting her predictable sentimentality to make him any later. Mother nature’s earlier downpour already had them behind schedule so she couldn’t let a flood from her eyes keep him from getting to his gate on time. She needed to hold it together.  She knew he wouldn’t walk away if she was fully in tears.

“Getting real? It got real when you put our house on the market. But really, are you going to be okay? I’ve seen you get emotional packing away holiday decorations. You going to be able handle finishing up at the house?”

“That was one time. And it was because I found an old message I had taken for Michael at the bottom of the box.”

He nods skeptically but draws her in for another quick hug which in turn only makes it harder for her to want to let him go, but she does.

“I’ll be fine. I’ll just miss you.”

“I’ll miss you, too. And the kids. I’ll be back in two weeks and then our new adventure begins, together. But for now, I’d better go if I want to make this flight.”

He sets one more fleeting kiss on her lips before he reaches for the spinner case at his side and turns towards the airport entrance.

“I love you,” Pam intones as he steps away.

Granting her one more look at the face she fell in love with, he turns and sings back to her, “Love you too, Beesly. Take good care of our offspring and don’t forget to pack all my dundies.”

Giggling through tears she was still fighting to keep at bay, she makes her way back to the car and climbs in, suddenly overwhelmed by a déjà vu-like sensation as she glances down to the passenger seat to see Jim’s umbrella still sitting there.

“That man is always forgetting his umbrella,” she mutters mostly to herself as she grabs it and jumps back out of the car, calling his name as she does.

Back at the curb, she strains to locate the lush locks of her husband’s head from among the sea of passengers heading toward the sliding doors. With his height and full mane of hair, Jim was usually quick to spot in a crowd, but it was those same long legs that propelled him faster through the swarms of travelers and thus he had already disappeared from her sight.

Oh well, they have umbrellas in Austin, she thinks to herself while still lingering on the sidewalk, peering into the distance in the chance he might realize what he left behind and come back for it.

But she knew her husband. It would take until the next downpour before he’d notice his umbrella was gone. And even then, he might not care. He always told her how much he loved getting caught in the rain because it brought him back to when she changed his whole future by agreeing to be his forever.

And since it wasn’t likely to start raining inside the terminal, she knew he’d get back the umbrella she held in her hands when he returned to Scranton and to her.

But again, he couldn’t have gotten too far. She glances down at her watch, debating if he had the time to turn around. Should she call him back for it? It was just an umbrella and yet she can’t shake the feeling that his leaving it behind is symbolic and even foreboding.

“You waiting for someone, miss?”

The officer’s voice was deeply familiar, deep and gravelly like her husband’s but with a just slightly higher timbre that she still remembers well. Had she not known he now had a successful gravel business, she might have expected to turn and find her long ago fiancé donning a badge and directing traffic in the departures lane of the airport.

“You know you’re in departures?”

As expected, when she turns to face the man in question it isn’t Roy, despite soundly so eerily like him. The fact he looks nothing like the man she once almost married does nothing to change how much she hears Roy’s voice coming from his lips as he goes on.

“If you are picking someone up you need to be in arrivals.”

His low voice doesn’t match his height. He stands only a few inches taller than her, one of them being from the hat he has on, but his short stature doesn't lessen the slight air of power he possesses as he barks at her.

“No, I just dropped off my husband for his flight.”

“Okay miss, then it’s time to go.” If there had been any congeniality in his initial inquiry, it was completely gone now and his voice shifts further towards the austere and demanding.

And yet, surprising even herself by not immediately following his direct command, she turns away from him, peering back at the doors once more instead of moving towards the car. She was never one to challenge authority but for some reason she doesn’t want to leave just yet, and so asks him instead for a minute more just in case Jim might somehow realize the forgotten item and make his way back.

In that the earlier rains had long passed and only puffy white clouds and bright sunlight sit off in the sky ahead, the officer should have been able to deduce the umbrella she is holding is not for any unexpected inclement weather within the covered terminal roadway. Clearly it was meant to be with the forgetful traveler who left without it and yet he remains unsympathetic to the situation.

“I’m sure they sell umbrellas where he is going,” he says gruffly beginning now to remind her less of Roy and a lot more of Stanley as his words become mumbled with its inflection growing harsher still.

Pam opens her mouth to further plead with him, but he cuts her off before she gets a single word out.

“Lady, if you dropped off your passenger, you can’t linger about. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.”

Nothing of his voice sounds anything like Andy nor is there even the slightest sing-songy quality to his delivery. She’s aware he means business and she does try ignore the automatic reaction she has to what he says, but she can’t help herself from trilling under her breath, “Tah wa Ta way hm hm home and home and home.”

And nope, she still doesn’t know the words.

And yes, she further incenses the short in stature and short on patience traffic cop.

“Get back in your vehicle and head on back to wherever it is you came from,” he demands a final time as he fingers the pad at his side, flaunting his power over her in the form of a potential ticket.

Reluctantly, but swiftly she runs back to her running car and jumps in, taking one last look back at the automatic doors then up to the rearview where she once more is met with a glower and an angry move-it-along gesture. Throwing the umbrella on the passenger seat and shifting in to drive, she steers towards the exit and pulls into the outbound traffic, all the while still humming the old song Andy used to play when he was first made manager.

As far as airports went, Newark wasn’t the most complicated to drive out of and yet with the traffic and her inexperience at driving through it, she still she loses her way trying to get back to the turnpike and winds up circling back through the terminal, twice, passing her traffic nemesis each time, though luckily, she is unnoticed as he is busy chasing away other lingering drivers loitering longer than he deemed acceptable in his terminal. Despite keeping the radio lowered in order to concentrate, she has trouble reading the road signs while simultaneously being aggressive enough to pass over to the third lane without causing an accident. Only once she knows exactly where she going, is she able to maneuver herself into the far lane, the one she needs to be to get herself back on the road to Marcie and Tom’s.

Finally, once out of the airport logjam, she flips the radio back on but even the music can’t take her mind off her mental to-do list. It was going to be a lot to handle without Jim.  She never thought the relocation would happen like this, with Jim on a plane to Austin without her and the kids. She imagined they would move into the new house together as a family, but then again, she never imagined the house they would wind up buying would need so much work. 

They’d been warned by the realtor to keep an open mind, to look at it like a canvas, the very analogy that would work on Pam. Darryl must have mentioned it to her that she was an artist.

What she hadn’t said was that this canvas would need a lot more than a fresh coat of paint to be inhabitable again. But as she handed them the face masks, a precaution she promised, black mold was not known to cause harm unless there was long-term exposure, she kept reminding them how a house with the solid bones that this one had would otherwise be hard to come by at a price this low. With not one but two working fireplaces, magnificent high ceilings, original fixtures and a world of potential, even with all the work to be done the sellers had it way underpriced. It would go and go fast to savvy buyers who could see past the shag carpeting, not unlike what she had grown used to in her previous home but here in a shade of green that was brighter than the lush lawn in the backyard and also unlike hers under which she was told sat solid hardwood, layers upon layers of peeling paint, gaping holes, falling ceilings, and poodle wallpaper that must have been an homage to the past owners’ pet as it was used in all four bathrooms and the guest bedroom.

It was that the kitchen needed to be completely gutted, that almost had Pam taking a hard pass before they even got inside. They had been through a kitchen reno before, at a similarly pivotal time in their lives, and once was enough for her.

But Jim convinced her it was worth a look, that whatever work needed to be done, they’d hire professionals to do it, not Dwight and his team of freaks, before he added that even she had to agree Dwight’s work had been excellent, joking with her if he didn’t have Dunder Mifflin and a beet farm to run, he could catch a flight to Austin and have the kitchen remediated before they finished packing up their Scranton home.

When advocating for Dwight failed to get her inside, he brought up the asking price again, suggesting with what they saved they could afford all the remodeling throughout the house and even have enough left over for a second honeymoon, maybe even in Paris. It was Paris, that got her through the front door but it was the terrace off the master bedroom that sold her on the extreme fixer-upper, warts and all. 

But it also meant work, at least a few weeks of it before it would even be safe enough to move in with the kids.  Pam never thought she’d be back where she was little more than a year and a half ago, apart from Jim, taking care of the Cece and Philip by herself, while he took off for work at Athlead in a different city. But this time was different. For one, it was Athleap now, and it was running smoothly. There was little stress to be expected from his work, unlike when they were just starting up. Plus, she’d already stopped working at Dunder Mifflin so taking care of the kids was her only other responsibility.  The kids were older too, both out of diapers and out of strollers for the most part. Most importantly, she wasn’t struggling to put on a brave face about the whole situation while holding down the fort and keeping everything she was feeling bottled up inside. This time they came to the decision together. She’d, no, they’d learned to discuss any uncertainties up front before they got to be too much. And though they both knew it would be a long two weeks, it made the most sense that she stay behind with the kids to finish packing up their old home while he oversaw the projects taking place in the new one, while easing into his new old job. It was just two weeks and then he’d be back and together they would say goodbye to their old life in Scranton and drive into the brilliant sunsets awaiting them in Austin.

Mind currently on her plans for the new house, she finds herself pulling onto Marcie and Tom’s block before she knows it, all the while feeling slightly and strangely ill as she drives around the curves of their street. At first she thinks nothing much of it, a touch of motion sickness brought on from the sudden change from smooth highway driving to the twisty, climbing street her in-laws lived on. But it doesn't get better when she parks, the slight churning of her stomach intensifying even as she turns off the car.

Great, the last thing I need is a stomach bug coming on. Without Jim here too. Ugh and if I wind up passing it to the kids.

Just the thought of it has her growing beads of sweat on her upper lip and forehead as she walks up to the front door. Before ringing the bell, she rustles through her bag for a tissue to dab them away but isn’t fast enough to beat the door swinging open, revealing Marcie behind it.

“I thought I heard a car door. Hey Pam, come on in.”

Pam steps back to allow the screen door to open, taking the opportunity to use the back of her hand to wipe her brow and mouth. Neither seemed quite as wet as she initially thought. The nausea too seems to dissipate as she crosses the entrance into the foyer.

“The kids are out back playing. They’ve been having a blast. How was the drop-off? Did Jim get off okay?”

Pam follows her sister-in-law through the hallway and past the rounded staircase to the kitchen where she peeks out the back window to take a glimpse at her kids busy kicking around a ball with her niece and nephews.

“Want something to eat or drink before you get back on the road?”

Not waiting for an answer, Marcie is already pouring hot water into the first of two mugs on the table. As Pam turns back from the window, she sees a stringed tea tab dancing up the side of a cup, stopping just short of falling in when Marcie jumps the stream to the second mug.

Despite no longer feeling ill, all but a trace of it seemed to have magically disappeared as soon as she entered into the other Halpert home, she also knows it might be the last time for a while she might have to take a tea break with her sister-in-law so despite wanting to get back on the road…there was so much still to do back at the house…she allows herself a short break with Marcie.

The tea is soothing, both to the last bit of agitation still afflicting her belly but also her similarly churning mind.

“I can’t thank you enough for watching the kids while I dropped off Jim.”

“Of course, that’s what family is for. Besides you should really thank Vanessa. She’s been entertaining them the whole time. She even skipped going to the mall with her posse,” Marcie air quotes the term before she goes on, “because she wanted to get one last day with her little cousins before you move.”

As Pam takes another sip from her cup, a small lump begins to form in her throat, just as it had been so often doing of late, whenever conversation turned to the move.  

“It’s hard to believe you’re going in two weeks. We’re really going to miss you.”

It was hard for Pam to believe it too and while she was finally ready to embrace the life-changing step she herself had put into action, it always caused her to well up thinking about leaving all the family and friends she knew and loved.

Trying to keep her voice even and crack-free is nearly impossible but she does her best to respond without breaking down.

“We’re going to miss you, too. But we’ll be back to visit and you’ll come to see us in Austin, right?”

“Of course, we will. I’ve always wanted to visit Texas, and now we’ll have the perfect reason.”

Pam sets down her near empty mug and reaches her hand up to her neck, trying to relax what the tea can't, but the knot remains lodged where it was. Marcie noticing, stands up, and moves in to embrace her sister-in-law when the sound of the slider door flying open turns them both around. Arriving in height order, into the kitchen their five collective children bound in, little Philip at the end only because he is straddled on Vanessa’s back as she gallops in behind her own brothers.

“Mooommy,” he yells cheerfully as he notices Pam. “Nessa tending she’s Rengy.”



It takes some time to pack up the kids and have the cousins say their goodbyes but finally she has them loaded into their car seats and gets the movie playing on the car’s backseat DVD system, her saving grace for these longer trips. Even with it, she isn't always assured a peaceful ride, not when Philip always wants Cars and Cece always wants something with a princess and someone would always end up crying when it isn’t their turn to choose. Today, however, they both seemed happy to watch the Frozen DVD, which Pam had hoped not to have to play again until their drive to Austin. Much as she loved Anna and Elsa and all their catchy melodies when it first came out, she was quite honestly getting tired of Do You Want to Build a Snowman and Let It Go. But since Philip was as much a fan of Olaf as he was as Lightning McQueen, she was willing to hear the overplayed songs again instead of either or both of her kids' tears.

By the time they reach the highway, a chorus of voices, including her own, fill the cabin as they all join Anna in trying to get Elsa to come out and play. Though her view is on the road in front of her, having seen the movie so many times she can picture the sad fate of the princesses’ parents as the musical interlude begins to play. Even if she had not, the melancholy strings tell their story and as always—even during times when she hadn’t just said goodbye to family or wasn’t experiencing her emotions on overdrive—Pam’s eyes well up and a there’s a lurching in her stomach.  By the time Anna is back at Elsa’s door, she is singing alone, softly and somberly, her voice cracking after every line, until the song concludes.  There is no other sound inside the car except that of the Arendelle kingdom preparing for coronation day.

It is so quiet, had it not been for the Disney movie playing from all the speakers—she still had not mastered how to get the system to play the movie solely out the back seat speakers while the front played the radio or anything else; she always needed Jim with her to get that brilliant feature working—she might have forgotten she even had children. A quick glance up at the rearview reveals their flopped heads, Cece’s off to the left, practically hanging sideways off her frame and resting on the bend knee of the fast-growing leg she had draped over the side of the booster seat, while Philip’s hung forward so all she could see is the rust-toned thatch of hair that was just beginning to curl up at the ends like his father’s did when it got too long.  With them both asleep, should she take a chance and turn off the movie, if she could even figure out how to do it while keeping her eyes on the road and steering?

Flipping from the movie to the radio, she waits for a clamor from the back seat and is relieved when it stays silent. Her eyes are now clear of the earlier tears, but there's still a knot in her stomach which has her worried it wasn’t just the song and that the nausea from before is in fact a bug that is returning.

“Please let me get home before it does.”

As if in response to her silent prayer, a series of dulcet chimes begin to sound.

She knows they are coming from her phone and feels instantly better knowing Jim is calling. She’d missed his earlier call while she was chatting with Marcie, but learned from voicemail his flight had been delayed and he hadn’t taken off on time. Her return call to him went unanswered and she assumed the flight had gotten off in the meantime and therefore they wouldn’t get to speak again until he landed in Austin. Unsure why this now made her uneasy, it had always been the plan, but with the alteration to the schedule she had wanted to have one last goodbye before he took off.

“Hi hon. Flight still delayed?”

“Sorry Pam, not Jim,” Marcie’s apologetic voice came over the speaker.

“Ooops, hi Marcie. Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, yeah. Except I’ve got a little horse in my hands. Marcie was getting picked up to go meet her friends and she found it in the street. It’s Philip’s, isn’t it?”

Pam slams her hand against the steering wheel, instantly regretting her action in fear she’s woken one or both of the children. She glances up into the rearview, sees they haven’t budged and then hits it again.

“Yup, that’s Renegade. He must have dropped it getting into the car. Well, thank God you found him.”

She speaks calmly to her sister-in-law but internally she is losing it. She can't believe she didn’t check for the stuffed toy before she drove off. She always does. How could she have been so forgetful today of all days?

“He’s attached to that horse. He takes him everywhere and also leaves him everywhere. But he also can’t sleep without him.”

Peeking back up at the mirror, she sees his head hasn’t moved from its slumped position.

Not entirely true, she thinks to herself but knows the current situation is a one-off. Tonight is sure to be a disaster without it.

“I know about those. That’s how Vanessa was will her Snoopy dog. Of course, we had multiple versions although she did have one she preferred, even after it started losing its fuzz in spots and started to smell. In fact, I think it was the one her Uncle Jim had bought for her.”

Jim had the magic touch it seemed with picking out attachment items. Not that she carried it around, but her teapot was a cherished item, so important that she had already put it aside so it would not get accidentally packed up into a box, despite the mover’s promise of white glove handling and service.

Renegade, or Rengy, as Philip called him, was also a gift from Jim that he brought home from Florida for their infant son. She remembered how she teased him–once he explained the FS on the side was for Florida State and the horse was one of the school’s mascots–that it was too soon to be pushing Philip towards any colleges, particularly one so far away. And baby Philip seemed to agree, showing no interest in the stuffed animal at first.

But though it hadn’t happened instantly like it had for her with the teapot, as he got bigger, he became more and more attached to the little horse. Soon it had become his ‘Linus blanket’ and just as the cartoon character’s sister, Lucy was always snatching it away, so too was Cece constantly swiping it, often hiding it in order to get a reaction from Philip, following in her own father’s prankster footsteps.

“Yeah, well we only have the one. They’re not so easy to find outside of Florida.  But maybe it’s time to wean him off. Start fresh in Austin without it, or at least without him being so dependent on it. Maybe I can start by seeing how it goes tonight.”

Even as she says it, she knows there is no way she isn’t going back for it tonight, especially as memories surface from when Cece hid him in Jim’s messenger bag and her husband wound up taking Rengy to Philadelphia with him. That was a fun-filled four nights. Add to that the worry she might be getting sick, too. The last thing needed was him next to her in the bed tonight, just like back then when his mommy was the only acceptable substitute for his Rengy. Normally, she wouldn’t mind but tonight she feared she might pass whatever bug was inside of her to him, if she hadn’t already.

“Never mind,” she tells Marcie seconds later and moves the car to the far-right lane. This time she has no issues getting over to the exit. She drives off the ramp, makes an immediate u-turn and gets back on the highway in the opposite direction, back to the place she just traveled from.

Chapter End Notes:

What a strange feeling to be posting again. Hope any readers enjoy it.


You must login (register) to review or leave jellybeans