"Wernham Hogg? Oh, yeah, still there. And Gareth's never going to retire so, no, honestly, things are good," Tim says with a half-smile, scratching the back of his neck almost modestly, and that's when Dawn looks in.
"Are those the cameras?" Dawn asks, and when Tim looks over at her and the camera pans in her direction, she quickly says, "I know they're the cameras, I mean what are they doing here?"
"Checking in on us, apparently," Tim says, near brightly.
Dawn looks at the camera contemplatively, then to her husband, then says, "Remember to get the takeaway, would you? And extra naan."
Tim sends the camera a knowing look. "Don't you want to - "
"Not particularly!" she calls back as she sweeps out of the room, and he shrugs at the camera.
"We're having curry," Tim explains, upbeat and dry all at once, and stands. "If you'll excuse me."
"I thought we were finished with cameras," Dawn says.
"It's almost as if you're worried about becoming famous."
She gives him a chiding look, sort of, but she doesn't mean it. "I'm not famous."
"You're sort of famous," he encourages her.
"It's -- it's only been a few books, Tim."
"A few!" he retorts, indignant on her behalf.
"A few!" she confirms, making a face. "And -- stop it!"
He's unabashedly grinning at her. "You're blushing," he says, pointing his fork in her direction.
She presses her hands to her cheeks. "You always make it sound so much grander than it is. It's just some picture books. I haven't found a writer to work with yet -- "
"Dawn," Tim says, and the firm timbre makes her stop. "You are amazing."
Dawn's gaze softens, and she reaches across the table to take his hand.
"You're just trying to get the last piece of naan," she jokes flippantly.
"It's all mine," Tim agrees, and reaches for it.
The mad scramble for the last naan breaks it in half, and the couple into silly giggles. Then they kiss, and there's a soft, quiet moment between them as though their curry and her illustrations and their comfortable Slough home are all there is to speak of in the world. Then she smiles, and he chews on the naan thoughtfully, raising his eyebrows at her and eliciting a laugh.
"It's not that I'm against the cameras," Dawn explains to them the next day. "I always liked them. Lent a bit of excitement to a really boring job. But now I've got as much excitement as I think I can handle."
"She's got a house and a mortgage and a studio," Tim chimes in from off-camera. "It's so exciting."
"You stop," she protests, and says to the camera, "exciting is... exciting is good, but eventually you just want things to stay the same."
Tim glances into the sitting room and as the camera pans to him, adds dryly, "I completely disagree."
Dawn laughs. "Oh really? Is that why we have Indian food every Thursday night? Or go to pub quizzes on the first weekend of the month, and -- "
Tim is making this perfect why does she have to make a point? face at the camera. "Aaaaand I'm boring."
"You're fantastic," she retorts, with a smile tugging on her lips.
"See this? We're disgusting," Tim says to the camera, and Dawn seizes his shirtsleeve to pull him closer in, and finally to the couch. "Twenty years, and we're still disgusting."
"I'm surprised you even remember us. We're old," Dawn volunteers.
"I'm old. You're ageless," Tim says without missing a beat.
She swats his arm. "I'm 52."
"Always going to lord that over me, are you?"
Tim looks straight at the camera and says plainly, "Does she look fifty-two to you?"
Dawn tugs at his arm. "Stop it!"
"I think fifty-two is a great number, personally," he goes on.
"I hate him sometimes," she tells the camera, her fingers tangling with his. He just laughs.
"You want to know about the kids?" Dawn seems surprised.
"They're fantastic," Tim says, without missing a beat. "Positively brilliant. Michael's just entered uni, Katie's already working at a newspaper."
"Even though print is dead," Dawn adds.
"We don't tell her that," Tim confides to the camera.
"But she knows it, Tim," she says patiently.
"And that's why we don't have to tell her."
Dawn presses her face into her palm and tries not to laugh. "She's a blogger on culture. Arts and theatre and that sort of thing. There isn't much for her to report here, but..."
"One day she'll reach the big city," Tim completes.
Dawn smiles, softly. "Michael wants to go into medicine. Nursing or medical school, he's not decided."
"Medical school may break us," Tim says plainly.
"He might get on scholarship," Dawn says in an undertone to him, a bit warning.
Tim smiles wanly, lost in his own thoughts for a moment. "And live the dream."
Nevertheless, their hands clasp together tightly, his wedding ring pressed against her palm, fit to burst just being together.
"Are you happy?" the cameraman asks.
"Oh, yeah," Tim says. "Couldn't be happier. I'm just surprised anyone remembers us."
"You were quite a story back then."
"Well," he says. Dawn is being conspicuously silent, and Tim tilts his head and glances askance at her. "I'm no Ulysses."
"No," Dawn speaks up, her eyes cast down and cheeks pink. "I was the one who was lost."
The camera pans over their darkened house, with a light in the window of the master bedroom upstairs. There the two of them may kiss chastely, his arms around her, comforting and content, and her fingers grasping his, her eyes pressing closed as she does every night, grateful for what she has and where she is, and the courage that got her there.
NEVER STOP, he wrote all those years ago.
And she never will. She will never stop her art. She will never stop the mischief. She will never stop her smiles, and she will never stop loving him.