Title: Recovering Adam

Author: Tote

Genre: huge, insurmountable, Everest-size angst.

Rating: well, PG but keep the Kleenex close by.

A/N: Huh. Well, apparently, 'With Her Soul in Her Eyes' didn't quite exercise the evil little plot to punish Adam. Here's the thing: I love him, I do. And no, I do not want him to leave the show: absolutely not. But this story just got dragged out of me, probably because I really do feel like there is a painful difference between season one and season two Adam. Man, I sound obsessed. Anyway: still expect heavy fluff and romance in future and try to tolerate this scary puppy: its bark is worse than its bite.

Joan sat morosely on the porch steps, her eyes focused at the end of the drive as if she could summon Adam there just by wishing for it.

Vaguely she remembered the days when throwing a penny in fountains, ponds, lakes (even puddles or bath tubs) used to be enough for her to believe that whatever she wished for would come true. Vividly she remembered when speaking to God, feeling his will be done through her, was enough to fill her up with a sense of faith—in goodness, in wishes, in ripples.

And with a pain that got heavier to carry around every day, she remembered how Adam could restore her faith not just in God, or ripples, but in the whole world. If the world could make an Adam Rove, there had to be hope left somewhere in the chaos.

Joan absently twirled her mother's beaded rosary around her fingers, not knowing the prayer but longing for the familiar connection. Pennies were just bits of useless metal, God's assignments left her empty and Adam had slept with Bonnie.

With a flash of anger she threw the rosary as hard as she could, only to find someone had caught it.

She looked up slowly, from the feet up to the jeans, to the hoody, to the neck, to the face…but she'd recognized the shoes, anyway. "Hi, Adam," she greeted him hollowly, forcing a smile. This wasn't her wish; this wasn't the Adam she'd been wishing for. She wanted pre-Bonnie Adam. Or a pre-Bonnie world.

He handed her the rosary, wisely choosing not to ask.

"Hi," he returned, his eyes resting in soft reverence on her face—such a good imitation of pre-Bonnie Adam.

He didn't smile but there was that old, familiar look of longing in his dark eyes. God, how she missed the feeling of deep relief upon seeing him, the way her heart would lift. And how she hated the way anger, hatred and jealousy writhed in her stomach and ripped her apart now.

"I was just thinking about you," Joan said quietly, leaving him to interpret that however he wanted.

"Is that why you look so sad?" he whispered, his words weighed down heavily with lament.

She opened her mouth to deny that, on reflex wanting to soothe him, and then thought again: "Yeah."

He bowed his head, breathing deeply and seemingly taking that in. When he looked back up and into her eyes, his eyes were wet with held-back tears but he didn't speak. He shook his head, as if denying the state of everything. He dropped to his knees without a sound, his eyes never leaving Joan's. She put her hands on her knees and he covered them.

"This might not mean much…but I'm sorry." His voice was rough and scratchy, deepened with guilt but really, it didn't mean much to Joan.

Really, it didn't matter if he was sorry. It didn't matter if he felt guilty, if occasionally he made a half-assed wish that things hadn't turned out the way that they had. Because hey, you know what? It was his fault.

It was all his fault. He didn't seem to realize this even now while he seemed so remorseful or care to realize it. He regretted it, yes, but he regretted it like it was something that had 'just happened', like an earthquake or a volcano erupting, some random act of God.

An act of God…Joan snorted dryly at the thought. Adam gripped her hands in his, holding them as if they were his last link to her. When she wrenched her hands away, he let her, and gave up the hold without a fight. Joan, scowling, thought this pretty much defined their relationship for the past year. She got up and he moved backward, just as she took a step toward him. "Are you sorry, Adam?" she wondered aloud, her voice edged with something pained and maybe dangerous.

Adam, taking this for the rhetorical question it was, didn't answer. He stuck his rejected hands in his pockets, protecting himself against her force-of-nature rage but holding her gaze grimly.

"Are you sorry that you didn't call me back when you were supposed to go to Rhode Island?" she asked, more herself than him, she wasn't even looking at him now, "Or that you ignored me when I wouldn't sleep with you?"

He opened his mouth, maybe to protest, but she cut him off with look so full of reproach, he lost his voice.

"I mean, are you sorry for all that? Are you even sorry you slept with Bonnie? Or are you sorry you got caught? Or, or, or," she was stuttering, gasping through her words, suddenly and cruelly overcome with emotion, "Or are you just sorry you don't have me anymore? Is that--all?"

"Jane—" He came forward, his hands back out of his pockets and ready to grab hold of her small, shaking shoulders.

She put up a hand in 'back off' gesture, unable to say the words.

He dropped his arms to his sides, letting them hand there, idle and helpless as she cried and sobbed deeply, convulsively. She wasn't his to comfort. She wasn't his to hold. She wasn't his Jane, because she wasn't his to have at all anymore.

"Okay," he said softly. "But you need to know—"

"Go away," she snapped, starting to back away and hurry back up the porch steps backward but she tripped on the last step.

Without hesitation, Adam pulled her back, his arms wrapping around waist. When she was upright, she was looking at him not with anger (that always died as quickly as it came) but with deep sorrow. The indestructible, undeniable Joan looked suddenly frail to Adam. He released her, feeling as though he'd been splashed with ice-cold water.

"You need to know…" his voice wavered as he took off his toque and ran his fingers through his hair in one fluid motion. "I haven't ever loved anyone…like you, before." He looked into her eyes, willing her to believe him, "I'm sorry I failed you." He sucked in a breath as if preparing to jump into the deep end of the swimming pool, "and if you tell me you want me gone, I'm gone. I can leave Arcadia tonight."

Joan wrapped her arms around herself, knowing two things with certainty. One: she loved Adam and a world with him in it was still a source of hope, of possible reconciliation. Two: Adam still didn't know what he did. Somehow he had gone from the boy that made art for his mother and danced with her outside, to a man that had forgotten both him and her, for he had risked and sacrificed them both in going to Bonnie.

And if she forgave him now, pre-Bonnie Adam would never be recovered.

"Adam," said a voice softly but clearly, "I want you gone."

Joan wondered briefly who'd said it. She ran her fingers down the length of the pink lace scarf that hung around her neck (the same she'd worn to her and Adam's big date, she realized with a sickening shock) in mindless haze.

"Okay," Adam agreed hoarsely and carefully, slowly, pulled his toque over his head, covering it with his hood for good measure. As if remembering something very beautiful, he looked up and smiled through tears and for a moment she glimpsed him—the boy she'd loved. "Goodbye, Jane."

And with that, he hid his hands back in his pockets, turned and walked slowly down her drive, out onto the sidewalk, down the street, around the corner and out of her life.

But she saw none of it. The moment he turned away, so did she, as if by some unspoken agreement between them.

Joan's feet climbed the steps slowly and she went into the house, vaguely aware of the delicate beaded rosary still in her hand and quietly, resolutely aware of the silent prayer she repeated again and again in her mind:

come back, come back, come back.