Here it is, folks - the final chapter! Thank you all so much for sticking with this story. Hope you enjoy how it ends. :)
The next afternoon the seven formerly stranded castaways met up at a dock in Hawaiian. Gilligan and the Skipper had taken a commercial flight out first so that they could get everything ready for the voyage. Ginger had flown to Hawaii after a business meeting, and the Howell's had accommodated the rest on their private jet. Now the group was reunited at the harbor, gazing on the Minnow II.
"All aboard for a three hour tour!" the Skipper called.
There were chuckles all around, only a few of them nervous. "Lovey, did we bring enough luggage?" Mr. Howell joked, and Mrs. Howell lightly swatted his arm.
"Oh, Thurston, we're not going to be shipwrecked again." She then waved a gloved hand at the pile of suitcases Gilligan was hauling up the gangplank. The stack was taller than the first mate. "But I did pack a few things, just in case."
"And we packed a life raft, and two flare guns, and a radio transmitter, and extra parts, and another raft," Gilligan rattled off, his head poking out from behind a valise.
The group laughed again, more comfortably this time. As exciting as it was to be going back, they really weren't taking any chances. Although the trip was sporadic, the Professor had been able to take a few days off, and the islanders were prepared to make a full holiday of it. However, he did still plan to be back teaching before the week was out and would rather that nothing got in the way of their return.
At last the tiny ship and its passengers were ready to set sail. Unlike their last fateful trip, the weather was fair and the voyage was enjoyable. This time, too, it was no longer a sightseeing trip taking by strangers. It was a family outing to a beloved home. The friends laughed and talked the entire way.
Now that they had coordinates for the island, it wasn't especially difficult to find, and the journey took just over three hours. The Professor was amazed yet again that they'd been within such a short distance from civilization all that time.
Just as their first voyage together, Ginger entertained them with a musical number. Everyone applauded wildly, Gilligan with such excitement that he nearly fell overboard. The Skipper hauled him in by the back of his red sweater at the last moment to everyone relief and then hearty laughter. The Howells offered glasses of champagne and toasted the trip and their fellow castaways. The Professor observed everything happily and held Mary Ann's hand.
Thankfully, no one mentioned ideas for the island during the boat ride. All seemed to have the suspicion that their cases would be better pleaded once on shore.
Suddenly it was there on the horizon - the newly charted desert isle, looking just as they remembered it. The Skipper and Gilligan brought the Minnow II smoothly and gently into the lagoon and threw down the anchor. Everyone stood for a moment, silent and mesmerized by the sight of their old home.
One of the life rafts was lowered into the lagoon, and the Skipper gave everyone a hand stepping into it. Space in the small boat filled quickly, and only the Skipper and the five passengers could fit.
"Stay here, Little Buddy," the Skipper instructed. "I'll come back for you once I have them to shore."
"No need for that, Skipper," Gilligan said happily. "I'll swim!" And with that the first mate dove into the familiar water. He frolicked and played like a fish while the others laughed and rowed to shore.
Gilligan beat them all there and stood grinning and dripping on the sand. Mary Ann pulled a blanket out of the basket she carried and wrapped it around him. "Here, Gilligan. This was for the picnic, but I think you need it more."
"Thanks, Mary Ann," he told her as he toweled off and wrung water out of his hat.
"Island, sweet island," Mr. Howell exclaimed.
"Funny how much I missed it here," Ginger remarked.
"It hasn't changed a bit," Mary Ann said, looking fondly at the jungle.
Mr. Howell cleared his throat and puffed up, ready to launch his great idea. "No, it hasn't. And it's high time it did."
"Mr. Howell," the Professor interrupted. "Why don't we wait until we've had lunch before we talk."
The millionaire considered the idea and then nodded. "I suppose it's waited this long. And I can't wait to taste whatever Mary Ann's brought."
With an unspoken understanding, the seven of them marched off toward their old campsite. Untended for the better part of two years, they found that the huts had faired rather well. Gilligan and Skipper's hut had a collapsed wall, but the others were only in need of a little more thatch and new bamboo. The communal table only needed brushed off before they could have their picnic there.
The basket was unloaded, and everyone began munching on the delicious food Mary Ann had prepared. For dessert, much to everyone's surprise and pleasure, she pulled out a banana cream pie. "It seemed only fitting," she said with a smile.
"Well now," Mr. Howell began again. "I think it's time to talk about why we're all here. What should we do with the island?"
It was silent for a beat, then voices rose up in clamorous discussion. "What's wrong with the idea of a vacation house?" the Skipper asked. "We could finally get it built and get some use out of it. This is an awfully good place for a vacation."
"Picture this," Ginger said waving her arms theatrically. "A movie studio! That way others can enjoy our tropic island paradise on the big screen!"
"I was thinking something with more profit. Real estate is always a good money maker."
"What about a monkey sanctuary? I think the gorillas would like that. Or a banana forest? Or a coconut grove?"
"Gilligan, those things are already here."
"We could open the most fabulous resort, couldn't we, Thurston!"
The arguing was beginning to get out of hand, and everyone was yelling their ideas across the table. Squeezing Roy's hand, Mary Ann spoke up above the others. "Roy and I had an idea that might combine most of those things," she said.
The others quieted down enough to at least listen. "The success of the book has given us the idea," the Professor explained. "People are genuinely amused, entertained, and informed about our time on the island." He looked around the table to each of his friends. "Why don't we offer them the taste of it?"
"What do you mean exactly, Professor?" Mr. Howell asked, not detecting much money in the scheme.
Gilligan looked confused and worried. "Are we supposed to shipwreck people?"
"No, no. It would be a completely organized tour." Roy smiled. "I'd say just over three hours."
"Say, that's an interesting idea!" the Skipper put in. "Gilligan and I could ferry folks out to the island; it would give us some solid business."
Mary Ann grinned at the Minnow II's crew. "Besides that, you'd be expert tour guides. Famous ones!"
Mr. Howell was starting to come around. "This whole enterprise is fascinating. Naturally, there would be a fee for enjoying such a primitive paradise." He rubbed his hands together gleefully, no doubt already calculating the prices he could charge.
The Professor nodded. There would of course be costs to the venture, and Mr. Howell's savvy as a businessman would be good for them. "I think we could leave our camp and the site much as they were when we lived there. Give people a chance to see its authenticity. We can still entertain the thought of a vacation home on the other side of the island for the group of us."
"Any thoughts on my idea?" a sultry voice interrupted.
"I don't think the place is ideal for a movie studio, Ginger. But if you know of any directors wanting to make a jungle movie, maybe we can agree to let there be individual projects filmed here." The Professor knew it wasn't quite what the movie star dreamed of, but he was pleased to see her nodding to the suggestion. If he knew Ginger, she was probably already going through a list of directors who might be willing to work on a jungle movie, with her as the lead.
"For a moderate expense, of course." Mrs. Howell was quick on the uptake this time, making her husband beam with pride.
The Skipper was sold. "I think it's the perfect solution!" he said, head bobbing up and down with excitement.
Mary Ann summed their proposal up nicely. "This way the island gets to stay in its natural state, much the way we remember it, and we still get to share it with others. In person along with maybe in the movies."
"And it even works as a sturdy business investment," the Professor conceded to the Howells with a grin.
"Good thinking, everyone," Mr. Howell congratulated, stressing the last word. "We should get started on this right away. We've got to get these huts repaired, and the trails cleared, and maybe get some signs put up." He rambled right on, listing everything that would need fixed or added before they could start bringing tours.
Everyone helped to clean up their meal, then the seven castaways wandered off to re-explore the island. The Howells uncovered the bamboo chairs they'd so enjoyed during their stay there and set them up for a mid afternoon nap in the shade of a palm tree. Ginger set off on a path through the jungle, intent on finding the best backdrops for the newest Ginger Grant movie. Gilligan offered to race the Skipper back to the lagoon where they could go fishing. The older man smiled at his young friend and lumbered after him.
Setting the picnic basket off to the side, Mary Ann reached for the Professor's hand. "Let's take a walk on our island."
The two of them soon found themselves at the inland waterfall, a favorite spot for the pair when they'd been living on the island and discovering their feelings for one another. They sat close together and dangled their feet in the cool, fresh water.
"I think your idea will work out beautifully," Mary Ann told her husband. "Everyone seems so excited!"
"It was you who gave me the idea," the Professor credited her, wrapping his arms comfortably around her shoulders. They were quiet a minute, listening to the sounds of their island. Being a part of civilization again was a dream come true, but here there was a peace that civilization had never found.
Mary Ann rested her head on his shoulder. "I'm glad the island will be staying mostly the same."
The Professor nodded absently. "Yes, it would be a waste to fully commercialize such a valuable and unique biosphere."
His wife rolled her eyes, but grinned. "Well, that," she agreed teasingly. "But that wasn't quite what I meant."
"You meant you're glad that it's staying the place of our memories," he said knowingly. Science and nature may well have been his first love, but they'd not stayed his only nor his greatest. And Roy Hinkley had spent the last several years in study of the woman who had captured his heart. He knew her well.
"That's exactly what I meant," Mary Ann agreed. "I want our baby to see the island how it was when we lived here."
"I do, too," he said. Then he heard her words again in his mind and immediately jumped into an analysis of them. It was a definitive statement, and there was nothing vaguely future tense about her wish. He peered with wide eyes at the woman in his arms. "Mary Ann?"
She was biting her bottom lip and trying to contain her smile. When she caught him looking, she straightened up in his arms and beamed. "Congratulations, Daddy," she said softly before kissing him.
Stunned and elated, he kissed her back and wrapped his arms more tightly around her. "This is the most incredible and wonderful news of my life," he whispered into her hair.
Mary Ann's smile was in her eyes. "Mine, too. Do you want to go tell the others?" she asked.
"In a little while," Roy answered. "For now I just want to be with you."
They leaned into each other, listening to the waterfall and the island sounds, grateful and content. Not for the first time, the Professor marveled at how his entire life had been redirected and shaped by that fateful three hour tour. He'd learned what was most important, gained the truest friends, and found the love of his life. Sitting here, back on their island with his beloved in his arms, he couldn't wait for the next chapter of their story to unfold.
Thanks again for reading! Please tell me what you think in a review! Also, I do have another few Professor/Mary Ann stories in the works, so look for those as they come out!