Hey, everybody! This is my very first Joan fic. It's most likely going to be a one-shot, but I may add a second chapter if enough people like it.

I haven't seen every episode of the show yet (not for a lack of trying), so a few of the details may be off. If I mess anything up, feel free to let me know. = P

Well have fun reading, and please remember to leave a review on your way out. Thanks, and Merry Christmas!! ^_^



Friday, December 18 was everyone's favorite day at Arcadia High, because it was the last day before Christmas vacation. The halls were hung with red and green streamers, bulletin boards were decorated with snowmen and reindeer-drawn sleighs, and there was even a small Christmas tree in one corner of the cafeteria. Everyone seemed to be in the holiday spirit. The school bullies were opting to leave their usual victims alone, and the teachers were more than willing to let their classes have free rein for the day. Even Mr. Price was in a good mood, which made Joan a little nervous.

"It's just not right," she was saying to Grace as they sat in the back of AP Chem. "Price is never happy unless someone's in detention, or he just made a baby cry."

"Maybe he really likes Christmas," replied Grace absentmindedly. She didn't even bother looking at Joan as she carved away at her desk with a metal ruler.

Joan shook her head. "Somehow I don't think Price is into the Holidays."

"Whatever."

The bell rang. Joan glanced over at Adam's seat. Adam's empty seat.

Where is he? she wondered. She was pretty sure he had come to school. He was probably just avoiding her, as usual. Perfect.

Joan sighed. Why couldn't Adam forgive her, at least for the Holidays? Would it kill him to just say "Merry Christmas" to her? Even if it was sarcastic? She sighed again.

Luke must have heard, because he turned around in his seat to stare at her.

"Something wrong?" he asked.

"Brilliant, Holmes."

"What's up?"

Joan rolled her eyes. "Like I'd really tell you."

"Well I am your brother," he pointed out.

"Don't remind me."

"It's about him, isn't it?"

"No," she lied. Before he could pry further she pulled a CD player out of her bag and put the headphones on, cranking the volume all the way up.

"That's really bad for your ears, you know," said Luke.

"Can't hear you!" said Joan, pointing to the headphones. Now it was Luke's turn to roll his eyes, before turning back around.

"Finally," Joan muttered.

The door opened, and Price walked in, followed by Adam. Joan turned off her music.

"Hello, Mrs. Turner," said Price cheerily. (A/N: Does anyone know the name of Joan's Chem. Teacher?) "Look who I found skulking around in the hallway."

"Well hello, Mr. Price. I was wondering when Mr. Rove was going to show up," said Mrs. Turner, watching Adam. He didn't look back at her, but Joan couldn't tell if he was avoiding her eye on purpose, or if he was just too spaced out to care what was happening.

"Guess I'll be on my way, then. Merry Christmas, Mrs. Turner."

"Merry Christmas, Mr. Price!"

Price left, and Mrs. Turner sent Adam to his seat. Somehow he managed to walk all the way to the back of the room, sit down, and get out a sketchbook without ever once looking at Joan. She watched him for awhile, trying to get up the courage to say something.

At length, she said, "Merry Christmas, Adam."

He ignored her.

"Adam?"

He bore down on his paper harder, until the tip of his pencil snapped. Wordlessly he reached into his bag for another one, and continued drawing.

"Can't you just say something? Please? It's the Holidays, for crying out loud! Adam!"

"He's not going to listen, you know," said Grace.

Joan ignored her. "Adam, come on! How many times do I have to say I'm sorry?"

"Just give it up," Grace insisted. "You're wasting you're breath. He's to stubborn and pig-headed to talk to you."

Joan nodded, and turned her music back on.



That afternoon Joan decided that, since it was almost Christmas, she should be nice and let Luke walk with her. As they passed a house, an old man sitting up on his porch called out to them.

"Excuse me!"

They stopped and looked at the old man.

"Can we help you?" Joan called back.

"Well I don't know about him," the man said, gesturing to Luke, "but you certainly can, miss. Would you mind coming up here, though? My hearing isn't what it used to be."

"Alright," Joan called. Then she told Luke to stay put, and ran up the driveway to the porch.

"Merry Christmas, Joan."

"Hey, I thought you only showed when I was alone?"

"Life's just full of surprises," God said cryptically. "Listen, I have an assignment for you."

"Now? But it's Christmas Break!"

"Hey, I don't get vacations. Besides, this is an easy one."

Joan cocked an eyebrow. "With you, nothing's ever easy. So what is it this time? Build a better mousetrap?"

God chose to ignore her comment. "Your dad is helping with a talent show down at the Community Center. It's a charity thing, for families that can't afford Christmas gifts."

"So what, you want me to volunteer too? It's done."

"I admire your willingness to help, Joan, but that isn't what I want." Joan braced herself. "I want you to write a song, and enter the talent show."

"What?! Are you insane? I can't sing!"

"Actually, I don't want you to sing."

Joan's brow furrowed in confusion. "Then what--"

"You'll see."

"Should I even bother asking questions?"

"Luke's waiting for you."

"I guess that's a no."

God pulled a newspaper out from behind his chair and proceeded to ignore her. Joan let out an exasperated sigh before jogging back down to the street.

"What was that about?" Luke asked once they started walking again.

"Nothing. Come on, I've got work to do," she said, hurrying the pace.

"Now? But it's vacation!" He struggled to catch up. "You know, sometimes I really don't get you."



When they got home, Joan barely took the time to say hello to her mom before running up to her room. She was barely through the door when she froze.

He has GOT to be kidding me!

There, sitting in the middle of her bed, with a sparkling gold ribbon atop it, was a guitar.

Joan stared walked over to her bed, awestruck. The guitar was a beautiful emerald green--her favorite color. She strummed it lightly. It was perfectly in tune. She took off the bow, and picked up the guitar. The weight felt comfortable, like it was meant for her.

Glancing down, she noticed a small ribbon of cloth lying on the bed. Joan put down the guitar to examine the cloth, and discovered that it was a shoulder strap. Grinning, she attached it to the guitar, and then slung it over her shoulder.

She played a few open strings, enjoying their clear sound. After a few minutes she decided to try playing a simple song. To her surprise, she was able to find the correct notes with very little trouble. It was as if she had learned to play guitar years ago, and was simply refreshing her memory.

Over the next hour Joan played increasingly difficult songs, beginning with "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and going all the way through the opening bars of "What I Like About You"

She was about to try some songs of her own devising when her mom's voice floated up the stairs.

"Kids, dinner!"

She gently placed the guitar onto the bed and ran downstairs.

"What're we having?" she asked, taking her seat at the table.

"I ordered pizza," Helen answered, setting the pizza box in the middle of the table.

"Cool!"

Everyone sat down and began to eat.

"So," Will began, "today was the last day of school?"

"That's right," Luke confirmed. "No more work until after Christmas. Except for Joan, of course."

"What do you mean?

"Ask her. She wouldn't tell me."

All eyes were now focused on Joan.

"It's nothing," she said, reaching for another slice of pizza. "I'm just thinking of entering that talent show at the Community Center."

Helen beamed. "Well honey that's wonderful!"

"You know I'm helping to set that whole thing up," Will said. Joan feigned ignorance.

"Really? I had no idea."

Kevin reached across the table for a slice of pizza. "So what are you planning on doing?"

"I'd like to keep that a surprise, if it's okay with you."

"Sure."

Joan ate her dinner quickly, than excused herself to her room.

She practiced for another half-hour before deciding that she was ready to start her song. Unfortunately, she didn't know where to begin. There was a vast difference between playing songs and creating them. She tried several different note combinations, all in varying styles, but none sounded right. The notes were in tune, but there was something.missing.

After two fruitless hours of trying, Joan decided to give up for the night, and went downstairs to watch TV with her family.



The next day Joan tried again, getting similar results. She couldn't understand it. Everything she tried sounded good--great, even--but at the same time there was something off about them.

She decided to take a break, and sat down on her bed. Her eyes roamed the room, eventually coming to rest on one of the sculptures Adam had given her. The very first one he had given her, actually. Joan studied it momentarily. To most people it probably just looked like a tin can with bits of metal sticking out. To her and Adam, however it was art.

Art made from junk.

Something old and plain turned into something new and exciting.

Joan grinned. That was the answer. Rather than try and write a new song, she should take an old song and redo it to her liking.

She spent the rest of the day working virtually non-stop. It took some time to pick the right song, but once that was done things went by fairly quickly. By the end of the day Joan had the entire thing figured out. Now she just needed two things: practice, and a backup band.

Joan asked her dad about the latter. He gave her a confused look before saying that there was a band at the Center. He managed to avoid questioning her when she asked to meet them, and agreed to take her right then. Joan decided against bringing her guitar, figuring that it would raise to many unpleasant questions, beginning with, "Where did that come from?" Instead, she planned on using one of the band's guitars.



The band was very good, excellent, even. Joan described what she wanted, demonstrating the guitar parts, and experimenting with the drummer. They worked for almost an hour, coming up with the basics. After that it was decided that they would meet everyday at the same time to practice.

Things went well. Everything came together perfectly, like it was destined to be--which it probably was. Each time they practiced it got better and better, until Joan began to wonder why she ever doubted herself.

The day before the show, Joan went over to Adam's house. He was in his workshop, as usual. As she approached the open door, she could hear something banging inside.

Adam was standing with his back to her, hammering on something she couldn't see. She watched him for awhile before deciding to draw attention to herself.

"Adam? Adam!"

He turned around. His face hardened the moment he saw her.

"What do you want?" he asked coldly.

"The Community Center is having a talent show tomorrow night. I'm gonna be in it."

"So?"

"I was kinda hoping that you'd come."

"Well you can forget about it." He turned his back on her and began hammering again.

"I know you're still mad at me, and I totally deserve it. But it's just, I really wish you would come listen to me."

"So you won't support my art, but you want me to support you, that it?"

"No! Adam, I love your art. It's beautiful, it really is. And it's not like I'm asking you to forgive me or anything. Just go to the talent show, please. If not for me, do it for all the little kids they're trying to raise money for. I don't care why you come, just so long as you do."

"Why do you even care if I go to this stupid thing?"

Her voice was soft, almost a whisper. "Because if you're not there, then there's no point."

Adam faltered momentarily. For a brief second Joan thought he was going to agree to come. Then his hammer slammed down again, and the moment was over.

"Anyway," she said meekly, "it starts at seven, if you decide to come. Oh, and merry Christmas." She turned and walked out the door on the verge of tears, praying that Adam would come.



The next night Joan was incredibly nervous. She sat behind stage, fidgeting like a mouse in a cage. All around her other people were behaving the same way. With some of them, the jitters would disappear the moment they were called to the stage. Others had to go up with their knees wobbling and their teeth chattering. Joan hoped she would fall into the first category.

Joan's was the last act, so she tried to kill time by listening to the other acts. There were a few other singers--some of them good, some not--a magic act, some fairly good comedy acts, a cellist, and several others that she couldn't recall. Finally it was her turn. She waited behind the curtain as the announcer went through his spiel.

"Our final contestant will be playing a rendition of Carol of the Bells she wrote herself, with a little help from the house band. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Joan Gerardi!"

Joan's heart pounded wildly. She walked up on stage, gripping her guitar with sweaty hands. Her eyes scanned the crowd. The very large crowd. With some effort she managed to find her family, but there was no sign of Adam.

The band set up behind her, then signaled that they were ready to begin. She searched the audience one more time. There, by the door! Her heart skipped a beat. He was there! He'd decided to come after all!

With a newfound sense of confidence she nodded to the lead guitar, who began playing the intro. Joan kept her eyes trained on Adam, and began to play.

The crowd listened eagerly. This was Carol of the Bells as they had never heard it before. (A/N: This is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's version) It was the Carol put into overdrive. Joan's fingers flew over the strings. She poured her soul into the music, the way she knew Adam put his soul into his art. Behind her, the drummer beat out a driving rhythm. The song was almost through, and Joan could tell that the crowd was enjoying it.

The last note rang out, and the crowd erupted in applause, giving her a standing ovation. Joan was oblivious, however. She only cared about the opinion of one person: Adam. Unfortunately he had his poker face on, so there was no telling what he thought about it.

Joan left the stage, thinking only of finding Adam. She paid no heed to the people that tried to stop her so they could congratulate her. Her family appeared out of the throng, all of them wanting to know where that voice of hers had come from.

"Not now, okay?" she said, trying to pull away towards the door.

"Joan, that was awesome!" Kevin said, obviously not caring that she was desperate to get away.

"Thanks, but I really need to see someone."

With an effort, she managed to get away from her family to weave through the crowds to the door.

He was gone.

"No," she whispered. She ran through the doors of the auditorium into a hallway where yet more crowds were gathered around refreshment tables.

"Please be here."

Joan scanned the crowds, the refreshment tables, and the chairs along the wall. He wasn't there. A sense of dread began to overcome her. If he had left already, then it could only mean one thing: he had hated it.

That single thought was almost enough to make her cry.

He hated it. The only person in the world whose opinion mattered to her hated the song.

On a final hope, she dashed out into the parking lot. Adam wasn't hanging around the front of the building, and she couldn't see his dad's car anywhere. He really had left, which meant that he really had hated it. Hanging her head, she turned to go back inside, and almost crashed into someone.

"Hey, Joan."

She looked up.

"Adam? I thought you left."

He shook his head. "Cha, like I was about to leave after hearing that. Dude, I didn't know you could play guitar."

"Neither did I until a few days ago. Pretty weird, huh?"

"Yeah. So, did you really write that?"

"Every bit." She paused considering how to articulate what she wanted to say. "Y' know," she finally began, "you were my inspiration for that."

"I was?"

"Well, actually your art was."

"Cool."

They stood in silence for awhile. Joan finally decided to say what she knew must've been on both their minds.

"So, does this mean you forgive me?"

"I guess so.Jane."

THE END



So, what does everyone think? Constructive criticism will be greatly appreciated. Flames, however, will be used to torture the person who wrote the flame. (What can I say? I have an evil streak.)

I hope you all enjoyed my story, and wish you all a very merry Christmas.