"What - what are you doing?" Nathan asked as he entered the kitchen, hair still wet from the shower.
"Making pancakes," Audrey said as though it were the most normal thing in the world.
Nathan just stared at her. There was a reason they usually reserved pancakes for supper. On good days, they made coffee and maybe had time for a quick bowl of cereal at home. On the great majority of days, they grabbed coffee and muffins at the diner on their way to check out whatever Trouble was wreaking havoc on the town. They never had time to actually cook breakfast. What was going on? Was this some sort of Trouble? But no, the Troubles never manifested in Audrey. Nathan watched her warily as he set the table.
"So . . ." he started. "Uh, why?"
"I love pancakes. So do you."
"I know, but . . . Aren't we supposed to be at work? Don't you remember what happened last time you took a day off?"
"I remember." Audrey smiled at him as she set a plateful of pancakes on the table and sat down across from him. "We're not taking the day off. But I called the station and they said there was absolutely nothing going on, and I wanted pancakes. So."
"Very," she agreed.
"So. Pancakes. Thanks." He chewed for a minute. "So we're just eating breakfast. Like a normal couple."
"Huh." Nathan watched Audrey pick up his mug and took a sip. By now, the act was so automatic that it rarely registered with either of them, but this time its proximity to the phrase "normal couple" prompted a rare grin and he leaned over for a quick coffee-flavored kiss. "Not quite a normal couple."
"What? Oh." Audrey laughed. "No. God forbid we do anything normally."
"Eh. I gave up on normal a long time ago." He was determined not to fall into melancholy, not this morning, so he cast around in his mind for something work-related to talk about. "When we're done, I think we should go to Main Street and see if people are actually feeding those meters."
"Parking tickets? When's the last time you gave a parking ticket?" Audrey asked.
"That's the point. If we're not in crisis mode for once, we might as well make the most of it."
Audrey gave an exaggerated sigh. "How did I find the one man on earth whose definition of 'making the most of it' includes writing parking tickets?"
"Sorry," Nathan said quickly.
"I'm joking. You're right. We should do that."
"I'm not . . . I don't want to . . ."
"What, Nathan?" Audrey put down her fork and gave him her full attention.
Nathan closed his eyes for a moment. He felt like he was holding this godforsaken town together with his bare hands - and that included worrying about dumb things like parking tickets - but Audrey was holding him together, and he lived in fear of their delicate balance coming undone. When he opened his eyes, she was looking into them.
"I'm sorry I'm boring," he mumbled. "I just want to be enough."
She was in his lap with her arms wrapped around him before he even had time to register that she was moving, and as always, her unexpected touch shocked his body and mind and left him almost gasping for air.
"You're enough. How could you not be enough? You're the only thing that makes sense."
He kissed her, partially to buy some time to figure out what to say but mostly just because he could.
"I love you," she said when he finally paused for breath. "And I was joking. About the other thing."
"Okay. I love you too."
"I believe you. I just - " He hated this, hated big speeches. "Sometimes I think about losing you and it terrifies me."
"Losing me?" Audrey laughed. "You're crazy. After everything we've been through, you think I'd break up with you over parking tickets ?"
"Uh. No." When she put it like that, it did sound nuts.
"Seriously, Nathan." She tousled his hair as she stood up. "Eat your pancakes."