And now, I give you... the final chapter of "I'll Meet You On Route 62"!

CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE:
WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF

A shining speck appeared in the distance, followed by a cloud of dust. What started out as a faint buzz, like that of a beetle's wings, grew louder and louder. The entire population of Radiator Springs sat on the sidelines, watching with bated breath, as Vee came speeding around the final turn. Doc Hudson stood just beyond the finish line, nervous eyes glancing back and forth between the Chrysler and his stopwatch. Sarge stood across from him, equally intent on timing her. Just a short distance away from both of them stood Mack. His unblinking gaze never left Vee's face.

With a sudden boost in speed, Vee flew the last hundred yards toward the finish line like a bullet charged by lightning. Doc clicked the stopwatch as the purple blur zoomed past him. Sarge nearly dropped his own watch as he was shaken by the wind of her wake. Cheers rained down from the rise where the crowd had parked to watch. Several of them started driving down to congratulate her in person. Mack was the first to reach her, sweeping her up in a gigantic hug.

"Now hold on just a damn second!" Sarge commanded, and everyone fell silent and turned to look at him. He glared at Vee and huffed an irritated breath through his grille. "Sorry to rain on your little victory, but you said you could beat the course in thirty-five minutes FLAT!"

"Yes, I did," Vee replied evenly. "What's your point?"

Sarge smirked and held up his stopwatch. "Thirty-five minutes and two point eight seconds! You lose, Missy! You lose, and I win!"

Vee, Mack, and the rest of the crowd stared at the watch in disbelief.

"Hold on a minute, Sarge," Doc spoke up. "I think one of us has a faulty stopwatch, because mine says she beat the time, with two seconds to spare!" He showed everyone his own watch. Sarge glared at him and snorted.

Sheriff double-checked both watches before holding up his own. "Thirty-four minutes and fifty-eight seconds exactly," he stated. His smile caused Sarge's frown to deepen. The crowd cheered again.

"All right!" exclaimed Ramone. "I just won a hundred bucks! In yo face, ese!" he taunted, lifting up his back end and waving it in Guido's face. Guido responded with a string of Italian curses and a tire iron shoved up Ramone's tailpipe.

During the commotion, Sarge fixed Vee with an accusatory glare and growled. Vee just smiled back and nodded at something behind him. Sarge turned around and his tank churned at the sight of Fillmore standing there.

The bus smiled at him. "Hey man," he murmured. Sarge growled at him and his smile faded. "What?"

"Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!" the crowd started chanting.

Sarge turned to Vee with brimstone in his eyes. Again, Vee just smiled.

"You have got to be kidding me!" he growled.

Mack parked beside Vee and gave the Jeep an expectant look.

"'Fraid not," she replied.

"Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!"

Sarge glared daggers at everyone else before turning back to Fillmore. The furious look on his face did not lessen. He could feel himself overheating already. Taking a deep breath, Sarge shut his eyes tight and plunged forward. He had barely pecked Fillmore's bumper when Mack rolled up behind him and gave him a sharp nudge. The Jeep's startled cry was silenced as his lips meshed with the hippie's in a passionate, if unintentional, kiss. The crowd went wild.

It seemed to take a ridiculously long time for Sarge to break away from Fillmore and when he did, the star on his hood was glowing bright pink and it was impossible to tell whether his bumper was curled in a smile or a grimace. A sudden stream of ice-cold water shot him in the face before Red turned his hose on every other vehicle present. Far from upset, everyone had a good laugh except Sarge, who glared heatedly at the fire truck. His normally intimidating scowl was lost on Red, who was now eagerly hosing down a giggling Mia.

Mack's own attention was quickly distracted by the sopping wet Chrysler parked beside him. He grinned down at her. She grinned back and winked, then turned and drove away. Mack wasted no time following her.


Dusk had fallen by the time Mack and Vee reached the lookout point. Above and behind them, the peaks of Cadillac Range were bathed in a warm, rosy glow while far below Ornament Valley lay in a sea of deep blue shadows. Cotton candy clouds floated across the darkening sky and the sun shimmered like molten gold on the black horizon.

Mack parked next to Vee and pulled her close with a tire. They stood on the cliff, side by side, surveying the valley before them. Neither one said anything for a long time. Both were simply content to watch the sunset together.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" Vee asked after a while.

Mack looked down at her and smiled at the way the golden light played off her curves. "It sure is," he replied, without taking his eyes off her.

Vee glanced up at him and chuckled. Mack turned to face her and pulled her closer, planting a large yet tender kiss on her door. Vee purred and leaned into him.

"You know what?" he murmured against her side.

"Mm, what?"

"I'm kind of glad that I pulled out in front of you that day," Mack said with a blush. "I felt bad about it for a long time, but… well, I still do, actually. But now… now I'm sort of glad I did it."

Vee smiled. "Me too."

Mack arched a brow at her. "You're not just saying that, are you?"

"Of course not. I mean it."

"Even though I dented you up real bad?"

Vee nodded. "It was worth it." She gazed up at him and the last rays of sunlight danced in her eyes before the sun disappeared below the horizon. "You stopped me, Mack. You stopped me from running away, and you stopped me from making some very stupid mistakes and ruining my life. You saved me that day, and that's worth way more than a few measly dents. I should really thank you for that."

Mack blushed and smiled. "No you shouldn't."

"Yes, I should," Vee argued. "If you hadn't stopped me, we wouldn't be here right now, and I wouldn't be thanking you like this…" she trailed off, turning toward him until her groping lips found his. They kissed deeply and for a very long time.

When at last they broke apart, they were both breathless and nighttime had settled over the valley. Neither vehicle bothered turning on their headlights. Even in the dark Vee could see that Mack was blushing redder than ever and grinning like a fool. "Well in that case, I really am glad I stopped you," he said. "And I'd do it again in a second!"

Vee chuckled. "I hope you do," she purred, kissing him again. Then they turned as one toward the cliff and parked there side by side, gazing out at the sleepy valley below.

THE END


WOOHOOOOOOOOOOO!!! (doing my victory dance) IT'S FINISHED! OH YEAH! TIME TO PARTY HARDY! WEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! (collapses)

Thank you all for reading my fic, for all your encouraging reviews and comments on my art. It really means a lot to me to know that I have such devoted readers who enjoy my work. I hope you'll all read and enjoy the sequel as well.

Please come check out my FFN profile. I've got a poll set up for choosing the title of my sequel, plus my own forum. If you're going to vote, please vote quickly because I intend to get started on the sequel ASAP and I'll need a title before I can post the first chapter. And don't forget to check out DA for the illustrations and all my other Cars art!