Catharsis – the purging of strong emotions to restore equilibrium.
Sallah took the lead about an hour after sunset, replacing Indiana Jones, who fell back to bring up the rear with his father. It was safer that way for all concerned. Sallah knew the area the best, even in the dark. Moreover, Marcus was already dozing on his horse, lolling dangerously from time to time before jerking awake . . . for a few seconds at least. More than once Henry or Indiana had rushed up to catch him.
Finally Henry had had enough. "Why on earth don't we make camp for the night? Marcus isn't going to last much longer and this terrain isn't the easiest to navigate, even during the day." Henry chose not to add that it had been years since he had last ridden a horse, and his body was certainly aware of that fact.
Indiana kept his tone quiet, not interrupting the desert's night silence. "We need to get out of Hatay as soon as possible, and then we still have to get out of Turkey safely. You think the Nazis are just going to shrug and give up when they hear what happened? And the sultan will probably send men of his own – his country lost its claim to fame as the resting place for the Grail. With our luck we'll have the French after us too."
"Why the French?"
"They control Hatay. And they won't be happy about the Grail fiasco either, if or when they ever find out about it."
There was a brief silence as Henry mulled that over. "Son, have mercy on your father for moment. Tell me this isn't how you usually conduct your archaeological fieldwork."
"Sometimes I wonder," Indy replied, snorting slightly. "There was that Thugee/Kali Ma adventure in India, and then the Ark in Egypt ."
"Noah's Ark landed on Mount Ararat."
"Ark of the Covenant, Dad. But those are the excep- "
"You found the Ark of the Covenant? In Egypt?"
"No." Indiana kept his voice firm, his words clipped to stem the flood of questions he knew was coming. "I was hired by the government to find it before the Nazis did. The Nazis didn't get it. I didn't either. No harm, no foul . . . no win." He hated lying to his dad about something so important but he knew, perhaps better than anyone, how tenacious his father could be. If Henry Jones knew that the Ark of the Covenant had been found and confiscated by the U.S. government, he would move heaven and earth to get it released. And who knew what mess that would lead to?
"Anyway, those were pretty much the exceptions," he continued, hastily. "Normally my fieldwork is pretty standard by-the-book. I mean, this is the first time I've ever seen 'X' mark the spot! And after all my lectures about that . . . let's just hope that my students never find out. I'd never live it down."
Henry's voice was low and shrewd. "Do you always take a revolver with you for your 'standard, by-the-book' fieldwork?"
Bluff called, Indiana reflected. Damn. "Only as a precaution."
"Indeed." Scottish skepticism permeated the air.
"Gimme some credit, Dad. I haven't died yet."
Henry inhaled sharply through his nose. "No," he agreed softly. "But it was close. Far too close."
"For both of us," Indy added, the memory of his father's spilled blood more traumatic than his own ride over the edge of desert gorge on a Nazis tank. "Guess defying death is a family trait. Which reminds me . . . Dad, are we immortal now?"
"Yeah. I needed to find the real Grail somehow. Drinking from it was the fastest way."
"There was more than one?"
Indiana mastered his impatience at his father's circumventing what he considered a vital query. "There were a lot of false ones scattered around the last chamber."
"False Grails," Henry mused, more to himself than anyone else. "The Cup of Life inverted, perverted . Cups of death."
"Yeah, you could say that," Indiana said, nonplussed.
"Let's just say he chose poorly. But back to my question. Are we immortal now?"
"No, not unless we drink from the Grail each day."
"But the knight – "
"Was ancient." Henry shifted in the saddle and resumed in what Indy recognized as his "lecturing professor" voice. "The Grail preserves life and youth. There must have been days he did not drink, when his faith and thus his spirit faltered. We may enjoy an extended life, Junior, but I hardly think we're immortal."
"Junior again, Dad?" Indiana's voice was fondly exasperated but leaning more towards exasperation.
"Why are you so against being called Junior?" Henry asked suddenly. There was no trace of the imperial professor demanding the correct answer from a pupil, only a genuine curiosity.
Nevertheless, Indy felt the years slide from him until he was left a teenager. A sulky teenager. "I like 'Indiana'."
"Now that's what I mean. Why do you prefer going by the dog's name – " Henry stopped abruptly.
Instead of Henry Jones, Junior, the derivative of your father's name, both men finished silently. And Indy knew the question that naturally followed was one Henry would never ask: How much was the rejection of his father's name a rejection of his father?
Indy sighed and looked across the dark sands. "Galahad didn't want to follow in Lancelot's footsteps, I guess."
"You know the tradition. Galahad succeeded where Lancelot failed. Zeus bested Cronos," Henry responded. Indy couldn't tell if he was hurt or merely remonstrating. "You are a good archaeologist."
"Thanks, Dad." He felt a ridiculously pleased grin spread across his face, no doubt plainly visible by the light of the newly-risen moon.
"But you would have made a marvelous medieval scholar. Far better than I."
The grin vanished. "I would've made a lousy medieval scholar," Indiana contradicted. "And I would've gone crazy trying to compete with you. Don't you get it, Dad? That field isn't big enough for two Dr. Joneses. I needed to have an identity separate from yours. Especially back then."
Henry shot a piercing look in his direction. "You went by 'Indiana' long before you ran off, and you go by it still."
"Yeah . . ." Indy shrugged again. "Well . . . Look, Dad, it really wasn't personal. When we went traveling it was just too confusing to keep explaining 'Junior' to the local kids. Look at Sallah – he still doesn't understand it. And afterwards, when I was publishing reports . . . well, 'Indiana Jones' was my own name by then, with my own discoveries attached to it. I was independent, not hanging on to your coattails, like you wanted." At Henry's stricken look Indy added, "You were the one who taught me to stand on my own two feet, after all."
"I taught you self-reliance by offering you no other choice. I drove you away."
"Dad," Indiana protested, not liking the sudden, self-blaming turn his father had taken.
"No, son, be honest. I drove you away."
"I chose to leave."
"Junior, haven't you been telling me for years now that I pushed you too hard?"
"Well, yeah, but – "
"And you resented it."
"There's more to it than that."
"Then pray enlighten me, son, because from where I sit it seems very straightforward."
Indiana repressed a strong urge to call the horses to a halt so he could argue with his obstinate mule of a father properly. "Dad, there's blame on both sides. We're both too stubborn and strong-willed for our own good. Always have been. Probably always will. You pushed, I pushed back. I rebelled, you retaliated. Dad." Indy slowed his horse so he could better meet Henry's eyes. He opened his mouth. And froze.
I love you.
He couldn't say it. To say those words . . . well, it just wasn't done in the Jones family. It wasn't. Even during the entire Grail adventure, with death staring them square in the face, neither of them had said it.
"Dad," he tried again. And failed.
"Yes?" Henry prompted.
Indiana took a deep, fortifying breath. Slowly his tongue detached from the roof of his mouth. "Thanks for making me learn ancient Greek," he muttered finally.
His father stared at him, agape, until Indiana started to wonder if even that had crossed a line. Then Henry looked away, cleared his throat, and kicked his horse into a trot. Indy matched pace.
"I knew you'd thank me some day," Henry mumbled, loud enough for Indy to hear every word and clear enough for him to hear the pleased tone.
He sighed, more emotionally wrung out than he was physically. "Guess we had our quiet talk without the drinks this time," Indiana commented.
To his surprise, Henry drew out his hip flask and took a sip of the brandy. "It's a bit stronger than a milkshake but it should serve just as well." His eyes twinkled in the moonlight. Indiana returned the smile and took a sip of his own before passing it back. To hell with the rules about deserts and dehydration.
The two rode on in companionable silence as the moon rose higher. Abruptly, Henry surged forward. Indiana jumped, then saw his father had once again caught Marcus before he had slipped from the saddle too much. The two older men seemed to exchange a few words, then Henry fell back again, parallel with Indiana.
"Son," he began, deliberately choosing a neutral form of address.
"How exactly did Marcus manage to get himself lost in his own museum?"