A.N. Here it is, the last chapter! I kinda like the way it turned out, so I hope you guys do, too. Once again, thanks for all the reviews, they totally kept me going and wanting to update!!


Finally finished with her homework, Julie walked out of her room and headed out to the field behind the dorms. Glancing upwards, she saw that the night was cloudy and only a few stars were visible. Julie threw herself down on the grass and pulled her knees to her chest.

Slowly, she replayed the conversation with Coach Orion in her head. I won't be able to play hockey for much longer, her mind murmured. Just a few more years. And the Ducks are breaking up next year.

She dropped her chin onto of her knees on a sigh. She hadn't allowed herself to actually consider what it would be like to start over without the Ducks. They'd been together for five years; and the original D5 Ducks for three years before Julie, Portman, Luis, Dwayne and Ken had joined. Now they'd all be going off to start their adult lives. Alone for the first time in half a decade.

Well, Banks and Charlie will both end up in the minors, she corrected. Her breath caught in her throat and her heart gave a painful throb. Banks... I won't see him again after this year. With a groan, she collapsed onto her back. I'm slowly driving myself nuts.

She stared at the moon shining through the clouds and allowed herself to contemplate admitting her feelings. Would Banks be worth it? All the potential problems? Thinking back to the night before, she saw him in her mind, carrying Connie because she couldn't walk. He never even complained about that, she realized, smiling. He's so...

Wonderful, her mind whispered in answer. Perfect? it continued.

No, not perfect, she amended. Just perfect for me.

She thought back to the Goodwill Games and the way he had played hurt. Sure he can do some stupid things. Saw the joy on his face when his wrist had healed. But he really loves the game. And the Ducks.

She heard him in her mind, protecting her from Portman. Sure, she could have dealt with Portman calling her But because Adam knew it bothered her, he'd stuck up for her. He'd cared enough about her feelings to make an effort. That was more than most of her previous teammates had done.

Feeling the goofy smile on her face, she shook her head. Okay, so Connie's right. I love him. Now what?

Tell him.

And the urge to do just that was getting to be too much to bear. She was slowly realizing that if she didn't tell him, she really would go insane. Closing her eyes against that knowledge, she lay still for a moment, feeling the night air move against her face gently, like a caress. She opened her eyes expecting to find the moon shining through the clouds. Instead she found Banks' face blocking out the moon.

he said.

She jumped at his voice, realizing that he wasn't a figment of her imagination. she answered automatically.

She sat up, attempting to catch her breath, as Adam dropped down beside her. Whatcha doin'? he asked, tossing his head to get his hair out of his eyes.

Just thinking. Tilting her head, she considered his profile as he stared up at the sky. What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be out on a date or something? she asked lightly, a flash of envy going through her at her own suggestion.

He laughed and turned to look at her. Nah, I was doing homework with Dwayne. He gestured over his shoulder to the boys' dorm. We have the same english class and there's an exam next week.

Party boy, she teased.

Oh, yeah.

They smiled at each other for another minute before Julie turned away. Leaning back on her hands, she turned her face upwards, surprised to see some of the clouds dispersing. Maybe we'll see some stars yet, she thought absently.

Banks laid down on the grass with a muffled and a sigh. Putting his hands behind his head, he looked at Julie. What were you out here thinking about?

Julie glanced at him with a guarded expression. Calmly, he met her eyes and appeared to be waiting for her to make a decision. Finally, she laid down next to him and took a deep breath. I was thinking about something Coach Orion said to me today.

Silence reigned for a moment as Julie winced at the hard ground and shifted to find a more comfortable place for her head. she heard Adam say and turned to see him offering his arm as a pillow.

Moving closer and nestled her head on his upper arm, she knew she was blushing as she thanked him. Connie's right, she noted distractedly. He does smell good. Kind of like a mix between baby powder--Probably his deodorant, she interrupted herself-- and something else... something... musky? Is that the right word?

What did he say? he prompted quietly, watching her profile.

Julie paused to get her bearings. He pointed out that I won't make it past college hockey. Feeling him tense beside her, she hurried on. The minors don't accept women, Banks. And there aren't any female leagues. So, after college, hockey's out. She felt his eyes boring into her head, but refused to look at him, knowing that she wouldn't be able to stop herself and she'd wind up kissing him.

Whoa, wait, no I would not, Julie thought forcefully. But the thought caused her to sit up and pull away from the comfort of his arm.

Adam sat up beside her. But you're going to try, right? You're not going to give up, are you?

Turning to him, Julie shook her head determinedly. No way. If they want to shoot me down cuz I'm a girl, fine. But they're going to have to tell me that to my face. I'm not just going to slink away without fighting.

Banks' teeth flashed white against his tan face in the moonlight. Now there's the Julie I know.

Did you really expect me to give up so easily, Banks? Please. She rolled her eyes in mock-disgust.

Laughing, he threw his arm around her shoulders. I didn't really, I just wanted to make sure.

They sat in a comfortable silence. Or, rather, Julie assumed it was comfortable for him. However, she was sure that Banks could hear her heart pounding twice as fast as normal. To cover up her embarrassment, she spoke again.

Do you ever think about what it'll be like? When we all leave, I mean.

He was quiet a moment, then looked at her and nodded. Were you thinking about that, too?

She shrugged. A little. It'll be weird not having everyone around all the time. Everyone will be spread across the country, starting over. She unconsciously moved closer and felt Adam tighten his arm protectively. It'll be strange not being a team anymore.

We'll always be a team, Julie, he responded, sounding surprised. Just because we aren't a team on the ice doesn't mean we'll disappear from each other's lives completely.

A wistful look crossed her face. Do you really think so?

He smiled gently at her and nodded. We love each other too much to fall apart just because we won't see each other every day.

Julie felt some of the tension leave her shoulders. Happily, she leaned her head against Adam's shoulder and closed her eyes. At least I know we'll always be friends, she thought peacefully. Maybe that'll be enough with Adam, too.

She felt Adam's arm tighten again and shift her head so it rested more comfortably on his shoulder. Smiling, she moved closer and let him take some of her weight. Her breath caught as she felt his lips press against the top of her head for a minute, but she didn't move away. She forced her shoulders to relax further and her breathing to even out again.

His thumb traced idle circles on her upper arm where her sleeve had ridden up. Now was the perfect time to tell him everything, but even as she opened her mouth to speak, doubts flooded her mind. So, she closed her mouth and burrowed her head further into Adam's shoulder.

She felt him turn his head and his lips brushed against her forehead in the most comforting gesture she'd ever felt. Smiling, she glanced up at him to find his eyes searching her face, a question emanating from them that she couldn't decipher.

She sat up to face him completely and tilted her head inquiringly at him. Her eyes locked with his and she found she couldn't force herself to look away.

His chest rose harshly as he took a quick breath. he began in a questioning tone, but cut himself off. A minute passed, then another, but she felt paralyzed, sure that he could see all her secrets.

Hell with it, she heard him mutter as reached for her. Her eyes widened as he wrapped one arm around her waist, his other hand sifting through her hair as he brought his mouth to hers.

As their lips met for the first time, Julie expected awkward shifting to line their mouths up correctly. But, instead, they met fluidly in the sweetest, gentlest kiss she could imagine, far better than any she'd conjured up in her dreams. It was just like Adam, the sweetest, gentlest boy she knew.

Slowly he pulled away from her, his hand still tangled in her hair as he stared into her eyes. he said vaguely.

she echoed breathlessly. She floundered with the task of speaking for a moment. That was...

he finished in a whisper, the look of awe on his face reflecting the awe she felt.

She grinned. Amazing, huh? she teased.

He shrugged. It wasn't bad.

She let out an indignant yelp and slapped his arm lightly. Smiling smugly, he tugged her forward and kissed her again, more deeply this time.

Pulling away again, he rested his forehead on hers. His voice was deep with sincerity when he stated, I've wanted to do that for so long.

Her hand ran softly down his cheek as her eyes drifted shut again. It felt as though her heart would burst from its own violent pounding. She let herself relax there with him and waited for the doubts to seep back into her mind and ruin this perfect moment.

But only one came to mind: Would she ever stop smiling again?

Me, too, she whispered. Me, too.



A.N. So what do you think? I hope it met your expectations. ^_^ I love Adam and Julie. *sigh* Okay, I'm off! Please review!!