A/N: This is it, the last chapter. Hoo boy. Well, I want to thank everybody who's reviewed this little tale. You guys are awesome. ^^ Do me one last favor and let me know what you think of the ending, hmm? Satisfying? :)
The drive west was a long, fuzzy expanse of hot asphalt, flat earth, and softly melting mirages. The days were getting shorter, but we drove well into the night. One night Adam just pulled over to the side of the road. It was useless to try go farther—we could stop at the next town in the morning. He grabbed a towel from the back of the truck and spread it out on the hood, and we laid there well into the darkness, side by side, staring up at the glowing silky stretch of starlit sky.
We were tantalizingly close. Signs began to hail the diminishing distance between us and the canyon. We only stopped when absolutely crucial. It wasn't really rushing, to us—it was a fixation. We were on a quest. You don't take your sweet time when you're on a quest.
On that final stretch, we drove through the night. One of us would drive while the other catnapped, and we'd switch off every couple of hours. I don't remember getting into the camper, but when I woke up, the sunlight was streaming into my little cave.
I raised my head blearily and looked at my watch. Almost 10 AM. "Adam?" I whispered, voice cracking. I stretched and tried again. "Adam?"
I got up, the pistons in my brain beginning to fire again. My foot touched something hard under the blankets I'd just thrown off myself, so I dug it out. Adam's Moleskine. An orange Post-It on the cover proclaimed 'Open Me'. I obliged.
The first pages were in soft, hazy, pastel markers. Sunsets. Trees. All equally dreamy and gorgeous. They slowly turned into bright, vibrant, graffiti-like sketches as I flipped through the pages. I recognized the Louisiana wharf with a smile. I turned another page and froze.
It was me.
It was different, this one. It wasn't hazy or scribbly, but vividly, almost violently there. Real. Alive. And it was unquestionably me, in profile, with the sun behind me. My hands were raised, resting on the steering wheel—how I must have looked to him, when I drove. I flipped the page over. Another one—me, curled up on the couch. I lingered over the last few pages, and all of them were the same. Just simple things, in light or dark or shadow; sketches, but careful, beautiful sketches, and always me.
I turned the last page. There, on the inside back cover, were scrawled two words in his favorite blue marker. 'I'm outside.'
He was sitting on the ground when I found him, staring out at the vast canyon, striped red and orange and wreathed in interwoven ribbons of sunlight and shadow. He didn't turn his head as I sat down next to him.
"It's beautiful," he murmured. "Worth it, huh?"
I nodded, unable to speak. "Adam?" I whispered, after five minutes of dazzled silence.
"I… I'm sorry."
He turned towards me. "Don't be, Shar. There's nothing to forgive." He smiled.
"I just… If I'd known, I'd…" I struggled for the right words, digging my fingers into the hard red earth. Adam just looked at me, patiently. I hemmed and hawed for a bit more before giving up with a groan. "I'm not good at talking."
"What are you talking about? You're a writer," he said, grinning.
"Life doesn't have backspace."
"True." He sighed contentedly. "You don't need to talk though."
"Yeah. There's other ways." I slid closer and kissed him, and it felt breathlessly, dizzyingly, chaotically right, like sun and ocean spray, and predawn air and headlights cutting through mist, and everything else that mattered, even if maybe it didn't, really. And when his arms wrapped tightly around my waist, I knew it was the same for him—I knew he understood.
We could have stayed like that, glued to each other, hearts thumping in sync, for forever and a day and I wouldn't have noticed. I wouldn't have cared. The jellyfish floated serenely away, over the canyon and its dappled blue and green river, translucent against the vivid protean sky. I didn't mind. We didn't need them anymore.