Yes, I know, it's been years since I updated. Okay, maybe not years, but still, it's been long enough. I've actually had this written since about the last time I updated, I just never got around to updating it. I didn't write all summer, and now I'm on the newspaper staff at school (which rocks out loud, by the way) and I've been really busy writing about poker and low carb diets.

Oh and there has been a change of plan. Although I had planned this as a ten chapter story, I've decided to make this the last chapter. Although this is probably my favorite story that I've written, I had very little initiative to finish it, because I started writing fics for other fandoms, and this one just got pushed aside. But, thanks to a friend of mine who loves the song 'Tonight is the Night I Fell Asleep at the Wheel' (from the first chapter) and listens to it on my MP3 player during technical theater, and a review from tvspaz626 that made me feel bad about leaving you people hanging, I'm finishing it up.

Well, I don't have a lot more to say. I want to thank all of you for your reviews and support. I love this story, and I'm a little sad that it's over, but I need to finish things up now, before I stray from it again. I had planned a sequel, but that hasn't really gotten anywhere. So don't get your hopes up too much, but then again, don't be surprised if a continuation does pop up.

And now, for the last time, here are the reviewer responses. I can't believe I hit 71 reviews, that's a record for me. You people are great.

Allie: Thanks for sticking around for so long. You know, I'm not totally sure why I decided to do the thing with the windshield wiper. I knew that I wanted something like that to happen, but the windshield wiper itself just kind of popped into my head. I'm glad my descriptions are vivid, but I know what you mean about the shudders. It creeps me out, and I'm the one who wrote it. : )

Jane and Adam: Happy dances are so much fun. I love reading/writing sad stuff, because it seems to add a lot more the story, especially if they can get to happily ever after despite it all. Let's hope they do for this story.

WingdFairy90: Oh, I'm sorry; I didn't mean to almost make you cry. Here, have a marshmallow. hands you a marshmallow Marshmallows always make things better. Chapter eight was definitely my favorite out of them all, and I'm glad someone else thinks so, too.

possibilities: I get your point entirely, I could have easily had one of them do that. But they were pretty lost, and didn't know where the road was, and in chapter 4 or 5 (I don't remember which) that comes up, but Joan doesn't want them to split up. Anyway, I just used my authoress powers, since it'd be hard to write a story about people lost in the woods if they found their way to the road.

Wiccan-One14: Of course you don't sound too demanding. Thanks for all of your support (and friendly reviews).

Admiral Lily: A lot of my friends had the same reaction. I hope you like the conclusion.

niteowl-gal: Yup, second most reviews is pretty awesome. And, yeah, he kinda is dying, but hey, maybe he'll get fixed in this chapter. You'll just have to read to find out. Thanks for being a faithful reader!

Z: I know exactly what you mean, and I can't explain it either. I'm glad you like my story so much.

Writer-always-n-forever: Your reviews are always some of my favorites. Pretty much everything is wrapped up in this chapter, so hopefully most of your questions will be answered. And I have thought about writing a one-shot companion fic for this about Kevin's thoughts on the whole thing. You know, I probably should do that. I'm gonna try to work on that, even if I don't write a sequel. Thanks for all of your kind (and entertaining) reviews.

EmmyMik: I worked really hard to get Grace right, so I'm glad to get some recognition for that. Thanks.

RoswellianKitten: Yeah, I know, I waited for way too long, and I'm really sorry. But hey, at least I'm finishing it now, right?

ggfan4life: I'm glad you like this story so much. Oh, and what's 'gg'? Just curious.

tvspaz626: You deserve a lot of credit for getting me to do this, cuz your last review made me feel bad about not updating. Not mad, or anything, just kind of guilty. But that's a good thing, cuz I needed a little jump start to get going again. So, thanks, and this update's for you.

Becca: Nope, this is the last chapter. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much.

JoAFan: I'm glad you're hooked! I hope you like how I wrap things up.

Jane: Yeah, I'm finishing it, just it case you hadn't figured it out yet ;). Thanks for reviewing!

Wow, I really hope I didn't skip anyone, because that was a lot of reviews. I hope this chapter meets your expectations. Thanks for sticking around (to those of you who did). You guys make writing worthwhile.

Cop


Soundtrack of Sorrow

Chapter Nine: But it all Stays the Same

It was almost five in the morning, and Helen was worried. The kids were expected to arrive at any time, but she hadn't heard for anyone for more than two days, and neither had Carl Rove or Grace's family. When she had seen the footage of the wreck on Graywood road, she knew that something was wrong. Her maternal instincts told her that as worried as she was, she wasn't worried enough.

"They checked out of the hotel almost three days ago," Will said as he entered the room, having just hung up after a conversation whit ha hotel clerk. "Wasn't that when they planned on leaving?"

"They should be home, then," Helen said, shaking her head. "They haven't even called. What could have happened to them? What if they were in an accident, Will?" she asked, her voice a timid whisper. "We can't go through that again."

"I know," Will said, embracing his wife. He took a seat beside her, and accidentally sat on the remote control, turning on the television. Both of them started by the sudden noise, and then listened in shock as a women on the news station talked about the crash on Graywood.

"In a startling change to this case, Victor Barry, driver of the semi truck that crashed on Graywood road early Monday morning, has regained consciousness and told officials that there was another vehicle involved in the crash. He described the vehicle as a dark Chevy trailblazer. Apparently the vehicle went off road at a spot where the guard rail had been destroyed this spring. The location of the vehicle and any possible survivors of the crash is unknown, but search parties have already formed and are scanning the area."

The newscast went on, but there was no way for the Girardi parents to hear it from their car as it sped towards the police station.

--------------------

Adam wasn't doing well, to say the very least. His fever had grown at an alarming rate overnight, his breaths were ragged and shallow, and his skin had lost almost all color.

It was a little past sunrise, and no one was sure how much longer Adam could cling to life. Joan was at his side, per usual, his cold hand in her trembling one. Occasionally she would whisper something into his ear, even though she didn't know if she could still hear her.

Grace and Luke were both silent. Death hung heavily in the air about them. There was nothing left that they could do, and they knew it.

At six o' clock Like switched the radio on. For the first time the top story was a welcome one.

"Search parties are scanning the woods near Graywood road for the missing occupants of a Chevy trailblazer involved in a crash with a semi truck early Monday morning. It is reported that there were four people in the car, but the helicopter have yet to spot anyone.

Things were definitely looking up now. There were three simultaneous sighs of relief. Their torment was almost over.

"It'll be alright now," Luke said, "as long as Adam can hold on until they find us. I don't think they can miss that." He pointed to the half of the car in the river.

Grace walked over to where Joan sat. "We need to wake him up. Hopefully it won't take long to find us, and I think he'll have a better chance if he's awake." Joan nodded, and shook Adam gently.

"Adam," she said firmly, "you have to wake up now. There are people looking for us. They'll be here soon."

Adam didn't stir, and Joan tried again.

"Adam," she pleaded, "please wake up. You're scaring us. You have to hang on."

Still, not even the slightest stirrings. A sudden fear gripped her, and she realized that he may have already gone, and she hadn't known it.

Grace was scared as well, and knelt down before her oldest friend.

"Rove," she said sternly, "if you do not open your eyes right now, then so help me, I will tell everyone about the eighth grade Christmas party."

"Yet another moment of silence, then-

"God, Grace. Why are you always so angry?"

Grace grinned broadly in relief at Adam's mumbled reply.

"It's about time you answered," Grace said, trying to sound serious, although her voice was a little shaky. "We thought we'd lost you for a second there."

"I'm not that easy to get rid of," came Adam's soft response.

His remark got a smile out of Grace. Adam opened his eyes and stared up at Joan.

"You okay?" he asked her, a little breathless.

"Me?" Joan asked, confused, "I'm fine."

"You hurt your arm."

"Don't worry about me," she said firmly.

Adam didn't argue, but closed his eyes instead.

"No, Adam," Joan said quickly, "you have to stay awake. You need to hold on until help gets here."

There was a pause before Adam spoke again.

"It's hard, Jane," he said finally.

"I know it is," Joan said sympathetically, brushing his hair away from his eyes, "but it won't be long now. Just hang on for a bit longer."

Adam looked up at her again and nodded. "I'll try."

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David Walker had been on plenty of search and rescue missions in the past fifteen years. He couldn't give an exact percentage of survivors, or of bodies (or body parts) recovered. From the looks of things, today they would be returning bodies to three families, and that was if they were lucky.

Apparently the Trailblazer had been knocked off the road and down the sloping terrain. From above, David could clearly see the trail of destruction caused by the car. It split in two, and David passed over a field where one half of the car was bent around a tree. He continued following the other path, looking for the rest of the vehicle.

He found it flipped over, and beached on a rock in the middle of a river. One look at it told him there were no survivors.

David was definitely shocked when he saw the young man waving his arms from the river bank.

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The next six days were hell. At least, they were for Grace, Luke, and Joan, plus their families and Adam's father. Adam spent the time comatose. That was the worst part of it for the others.

Grace, Luke, and Joan were all discharged from the hospital after a day or so, the only real injury sustained among them being Joan's broken wrist. For some reason, more than likely because of Luke and Grace, her cast had ended up neon pink. It actually wasn't too bad, once she got over how bright it was.

Their days became defined by the number of hours spent by Adam's bedside, and the number of tasteless coffees they drank to stay awake. Despite their families urging, the trio refused to leave the hospital, sleeping in the hard plastic chairs, or in their parents' cars, once they'd relented.

The doctor repeatedly explained that things didn't look good at all, that Adam might never wake up, that his wound was grievous, and that it was miraculous that he had survived as long as he had, especially given the conditions. Joan and the others tried their best not to let these statements get to them, because they wouldn't get anywhere without hope.

After six days, things finally started to look up.

A week after he had been brought to the hospital, Adam woke up. He wasn't ready to go home yet, but the prognosis was suddenly good.

The other three ex-castaways went in to visit him as soon as the doctors quit trying to keep them out of his room. He was propped up in bed, a clean white bandage wrapped around his chest. His still pale face broke into a wide grin as soon as he saw his friends.

"I've been out for a long time, haven't I?" he said, his voice a little scratchy from disuse.

Joan nodded. "A week."

"You freaked us all out, Rove," Grace told him. Luke nodded his agreement.

Adam looked to Joan, who had tears in her eyes. "Don't cry, Jane," he said softly. "Everything's all right now."

Joan sniffed and nodded. "I know. I was just so worried."

"We all were," Luke added.

Adam was quiet for a moment, "Well, the first part of the trip was fun. We should do it again sometime."

Everyone was silent, then burst out laughing.

"Just promise us one thing," Grace said.

"What's that?" Adam asked, a slight smile playing on his lips.

Joan finished the thought for her. "Let's not drive anywhere."

Adam grinned. "Unchallenged."

Outside the door, a nurse who knew everything about everyone listened to the laughter of the four children inside. Knowing better than anyone else that they would all recover, her happiness was the truest of all.

END

1:27 pm, Wednesday, October 06, 2004