A/N: I think this is the last chapter, so I'm trying to make it a long one.
1 hour, 43 minutes. That's how long they'd been driving. That's also how long they'd gone without speaking.
They passed a sign proclaiming "Wasaga Beach 25". Emma drew a sharp intake of breath. 25 kilometers. They were almost there. She wasn't sure if she was ready. The whole trip was an off-the-cuff reaction to Sean's leaving, and hadn't been planned with her usual thoroughness.
Jay noticed her tense up and sighed "Stop worrying, Greenpeace. You're going to tell Sean how you feel and he's going to get all sappy and say he feels the same way, you'll kiss and make up and we'll bring him home. Simple as that."
Emma stared out the passenger window and muttered, "He doesn't even know the bad stuff yet."
Jay had a feeling he knew what she was talking about. "Look..Emma.. I wasn't going to tell you this.. but Sean knows about what went down in the ravine. With us."
"WHAT!?" Emma squealed "You told him!? How could you!!?" had the car not been moving at 120 km/hr, she would have attempted to jump out at that point. She buried her face in her hands.
He took a deep breath "This summer, I went to see Sean. I took off driving one day, and ended up in Wasaga. Sean and I just sat in this diner for hours and talked." At her wide eyes he stammered "and if you tell anyone that I'll kill you" but he followed the statement with a smile. "Anyway, I talked a lot about Alex… and Spinner and how all my friends had ditched me." He looked over at his passenger "He talked mostly about you. I never meant to tell him, Emma. But he was going on and on about how you were so perfect and how he could never live up to your standards.. and I just thought that maybe telling him would prove that you were human, too."
Emma looked incredulous. "Oh my god. I can't believe you told him. What.. what did he say?"
Jay scoffed. "He broke my fucking nose." Emma gasped as she vaguely remembered seeing Jay with butterfly bandages and a bruised face near the end of the summer. "Sean did that?"
"Yep. Prick. I swore I'd never speak to that punk again." He laughed "But, two weeks later he moved back, and he was on my doorstep, looking for a place to crash until he found a place of his own. Pretty coincidental timing, if you ask me."
"He never said anything." Emma said, still shell shocked.
"Yeah, Sean's not exactly a pro in the communication department, in case you haven't noticed".
"Understatement of the century." Emma sighed, "Well, I'm still mad you told him. But I guess I'm sort of glad he knows. I am sick of there always being something between us. Maybe this will clear the air. Even though it should have come from me."
Jay shrugged "Well – we're here." As Jay turned onto the dirt road Emma remembered from her last time here, her heart started racing at the sight of Sean's parents' mobile home. She thought it would stop altogether when Sean's car came into view, hatch raised, as Sean himself unloaded a box.
They'd found him.
At the sound of Jay's modified exhaust, Sean turned. The box fell from his hands as he focused on the blond figure in the passenger seat. He took a tentative step forward as Emma threw her door open before the car even came to a complete stop. He opened his mouth to say something, anything, but the look in her eyes stopped him. She was pissed.
Storming up to him, she stopped short. She took in the car full of Sean's things. "You really weren't coming back… you ran away… and didn't even say goodbye" at this, she turned back to Jay "I can't do this" and shoving Sean out of the way with both hands; headed to the only other place in Wasaga she knew how to get to – the beach.
Sean looked at Jay, his mouth hanging open; a confused, desperate look on his face. "Well, go after her!" Jay commanded. "I sure as hell didn't drive all this way just to see you wuss out now."
Wordlessly, Sean turned and headed the direction Emma had gone. He found her sitting on the deserted beach, staring out over the water. As she noticed him approach, she turned her face away from him.
Unsure what to say, Sean went with his gut. "What are you doing here, Emma?"
"I could ask you the same thing." she snapped.
He sighed. He could see she was going to be 'Firecracker Emma' today.
"Look. I'm sorry I didn't say goodbye, alright? But I couldn't stay. I couldn't do it anymore".
Now she did look at him, unable to suppress her curiosity. "Do what?"
"This." He gestured wildly between them.
"I don't.. I don't understand."
"I was stupid to think I could just be your friend. Stupider still to think I could be around you and not even be your friend. Whatever we had, I killed it three years ago. I get that. But being around you every day, knowing all you'd ever see me as is a friend, or even worse, a former friend - I couldn't do that anymore. Not once I realized that I.."
Emma cut him off "No, Sean. don't say it." Pain filled his eyes. "No, you're not understanding me. Sean" she took his hands and looked into eyes. "I have to say this first. Sean – I love you. I think I always have. I probably always will. I pushed you away because I thought it was best for you. That was the stupidest thing I've ever done . But I love you. I mean that's all I can really say. I love you, Sean."
Sean couldn't believe his ears. Had she just said… a grin split his face. He put his forehead against hers and smiled into her eyes. "I love you too, Em. I'm sorry I didn't tell you before." The kiss was filled with years of pent up emotion. Apologies for things that were said and done, and more so for the things that went unsaid. When it was over, they sank back down to the sand, never letting go of each other, content in this newfound feeling of security and happiness. But for Sean, the feeling was fleeting, as unbidden worries crept into his mind.
"Em." He said quietly. She turned from her position in his arms "hmm?"
"What… what's going to happen when you go off to college?"
Emma looked at him, puzzled. She smiled softly "Oh Sean, that's almost a year away. Don't even think about that right now."
"No, I have to think about it. Em, I can't lose you again. Not now, not a year from now, not ever. I can't do it again. You're it for me. There won't be anyone else. But…I'm never going to go to college. I'm going to end up a mechanic for the rest of my life. If I'm really lucky, I'll have my own shop one day. But you," he stroked her hair "you're brilliant. You're going to go off to college, and get a degree in something I probably can't even pronounce… and be able to go anywhere and do anything you want. I can't ask you to tie yourself down to some grease monkey for the rest of your life. I won't."
Emma turned, frustrated. "Sean Cameron! I never want to hear you talk like that again. Do you hear me? I mean it. You" she grabbed his chin and forced him to look at her "you are a million times more intelligent, more ambitious, more driven, than any stuffed shirt I've ever met. My mother is a hairdresser – do you think for one second I ever thought to myself 'Gee, I wish she was a geologist.'? No. I didn't. What she taught me, is that life is about being happy. It's not about money, or things, or traveling the world. You know what makes me happy?" she stared into his eyes "You do. Always. I don't care if we have to live in a 600 square foot apartment with a car held together by shoelaces. I don't care if you are a grease monkey; you're my grease monkey!! I just want you. It's all I've ever wanted. So don't you dare try and tell me I can't have it!!"
The knot in Sean's shoulders had completely dissipated, and he wondered how Emma always knew exactly what to say to him to make him feel better. He pulled her in for a long kiss, and as they drew apart he whispered, "I love you Em. So much."
She gave him a megawatt smile "I love you too."
As rose to head back to Sean's parents place, Emma had one last question for Sean.
"Can I ask you a question?"
Intertwining his hand with hers, he replied "Anything."
"Did you really break Jay's nose?"
A/N: Annndd that's the end. I think I took this story as far as I could, and I'm going to have less time to spend on it, so I thought I'd wrap it up. Thanks so much for all the kind reviews, I hope you liked it!