Moonlight and Magic
A year has passed since Joan broke up with Adam. At their graduation party, Joan realizes that she might be ready to finally forgive him.
I don't know where this came from, but maybe it's the warm weather and me being sick of writing only depressing post Trial-and-Error stuff. I mean, this is also post Trial-and-Error, but it's not depressing (I hope!). Heavy in the fluff department, actually. Brace yourselves! Don't know if it's realistic. (Let me know by review if you think it might or might not be.) It's just that I have thought about so many Adam-Joan reunion scenarios in my head, and somehow this one felt right. At least when I wrote it... Not so sure about it anymore now, but I'm going to post it anyway.
Tote, if you're reading this, I didn't mean to stray from that "other" project .:.wink wink.:., but this just poured out of me and it couldn't be contained. Thanks for your lovely input and your willingness to jump on my bandwagon and making it something more than I ever intended it to be. You rock! Keep that up.
Oh, and the Germany reference might be a bit cheesy, but I am German and I thought it would be something Joan might want to be doing. (I am aware that she doesn't seem to speak or have learned German, but maybe she took courses in the time that has passed in between. Okay, grasping at straws. Sorry...)
Please please please let me know what you think! Reviews make writing so much more rewarding. Come on, don't be shy, a review is only three clicks away. :o)
These characters and settings are not mine. Nor am I claiming they are. They are property of CBS, Barbara Hall Productions, Sony or whoever else they might belong to. I'm not making any money out of this, although I wish I was.
The smell of gardenias hung in the air like a heavy brocade curtain, enveloping everything with its tangy and almost sickeningly sweet scent. The dry heat of the heat wave having recently engulfed Arcadia only seemed to carry it further, seemingly up and up from its origin through the atmosphere right up to the moon.
A moon which was casting its pale, blue light onto a scene of carefreeness, joy and effusiveness. It was the night of the unofficial post-graduation party, and the students of Arcadia High were celebrating their eventual freedom (if for some only short-lived). Spirits were high and the air seemed to buzz with exuberance.
Joan studied the intricate white flowers that lay on the tables for decoration, idly playing with one in her hand, which only made the sweet scent intensify and tickle her nose. She put the flower down and put her chin in her hands with her elbows propped up on the table. He gaze met the uncannily handsome young man who was sitting one table away and she couldn't help stare at him—his dark hair curling ever so slightly, his narrow but long and beautifully curved eyebrows, his straight nose and those slightly pouty and full lips. On the lips she got stuck, involuntarily overcome by a sudden urge to walk over to him and press hers onto his, softly caressing them with her tongue, parting them to let it enter his mouth.
As the realization of her sudden desire sunk in, she almost winced. She knew she missed Adam and the closeness they used to share until about a year ago. She missed it terribly, painfully. But ever since then, she had never wanted him so much—physically as much—as she did tonight. She watched him laughing at something Grace, sitting next to him, had said. She took in how he absentmindedly rubbed his right arm with his left hand. God, he was so beautiful in that shy and subdued way of his. The sheer sight of him made a feeling of anticipation and longing form and coalesce into a tingle in her stomach. Before she even realized it, she was standing up and walking over to him.
Just at that moment, the DJ put on a song Joan did not recognize, but the buoyant yet slow Latin rhythm mingling with a male Spanish voice made her want to sway her hips as she approached the table Adam, Grace and Luke were sitting at. She went up to Adam and extended her hand. "Will you dance with me?" she said out of the blue, in a soft, almost embarrassed tone.
Startled, Adam looked up at her with wide, deer-like, irresistible eyes that seemed to want to speak volumes but didn't know where to start. He swallowed visibly, unsure how to react. His eyes met hers and what he saw in them was enough to want him to jump up eagerly, shouting out, 'Yes, yes, yes, I have never before wanted anything in my life as much as that.' But to Joan he said in a low voice, "Yes, I will."
He took Joan's hand and she gently pulled him up from his seat to guide him to the area that was cleared to form a make-shift dance floor, which was uncharacteristically empty. Hyperaware of his surroundings, Adam let himself be directed to the middle of the dance floor. He felt Joan's arm slinging around his back, her other hand resting on his shoulder. Instinctively, he did the same, trying to hide the ripple of pleasure that ran through him as he felt the soft, slightly sweaty skin of her shoulder beneath his hand. Her long hair was brushing the bare skin of his arm and the fragrant scent of her shampoo reached his nose. Before Jane, he had never known how much simple tactile and olfactory stimuli could entice your senses.
Adam had never pictured himself as a capable dancer, but with Jane in his arms, it was like he just knew where to step, knew how to move and where to lead. They slowly, quietly danced to the soft Latin tune, moving ever closer to each other until he felt Jane's cheek brushing up to his. Words would only destroy this moment of long lost magic, they both knew better to savor it in silence, wishing it would never end.
When the song came to a close, Joan pulled away from him. It took all the strength he could muster to look into her amazing, rich and beautiful eyes. Such a long time had passed since they had been this close, and he felt the urge to tell her how much he had missed her, how much he had longed for her closeness, how much he still loved her. He opened his mouth, starting, "Jane, I—"
She interrupted him by placing her finger on his mouth, saying, "Shh."
Adam's eyes involuntarily watered but no tears fell. He wanted to, needed to say it to her, she needed to know. "Jane, I still—"
Again, she did not let him finish. "I know," she just said, and there was no bitterness, no rejection, no sadness in her voice. Just knowing and understanding and something that made him remember loving and being loved.
She drew him close again, their bodies touching, and suddenly he felt her strawberry lips on his, her tongue searching his out inside his mouth. A feeling of joy and ecstasy jolted up his spine and it was all he could do not to let it distract him. He let her in and returned the kiss with all the passion he had kept bottled up for so long.
When Joan finally pulled away and untangled herself from their embrace, she slid her fingers through Adam's hand and steered him in the opposite direction of the area where most of the students sat or mingled. "Come on, let's get out of here," she told him.
Adam was too dumbfounded and utterly speechless. He was still working on processing that Joan had kissed him. No, a simple 'kissed him' didn't quite do the description justice. Their physical intimacy had been beyond that. This was what he was dreaming about in the wee hours when he couldn't sleep.
He had never been a sound sleeper, but ever since last year's events after mock trial, he had awoken frequently after only a few hours of sleep and had not been able to fall asleep again. He would then silently sneak out of the house and spend the rest of the night in the shed—drawing, painting, sculpting or simply letting his mind wander. In nine out of ten cases, he would end up thinking about Jane. Thinking about how stupid he had been, how much he condemned himself and his actions and how much he wished she would forgive him. And then there would be the longing—longing for their closeness and that soul-searching, deeply passionate kiss that would make it all better, make it all go away, if only for a short while. This had been that kiss, the kiss, the one he had fantasized about for months and months.
He felt Joan tugging at his hand and he followed her. She took them a few yards away and guided Adam to solitary spot, away from all the action. She sat down on the grass and motioned for Adam to follow her lead, still holding his hand. The sound of muffled music was audible from the distance, dull sounds of the bass predominating.
Joan lifted her hand with Adam's in hers, their fingers now interlaced as pale, blue-tinged moonlight illuminated the lawn just enough for them to make out each other's features. Joan slowly withdrew her hand from his and turned his palm so that it was facing upwards. Gently, she traced the lines of his palm with her fingertips, feeling the calluses and unevenness as if she was reading Braille.
She studied Adam's face as she said, "Have I ever told you how much I like your hands?"
Adam felt electrified. This was what it must feel like to be on ecstasy. Goose bumps were forming all over his body. Am I awake or am I dreaming? he wondered. He didn't even realize how a single tear broke away from his eyelashes and slid down his cheek. He felt Joan's soft skin on his as she wiped it away.
Joan softly enquired, "Why are you crying?"
It took Adam a few seconds to form into words what he himself was only just grasping. "Because I didn't think you would ever want to like me again."
She absently rubbed her finger and thumb together as if she was trying to assess the consistency of the tear she had wiped from Adam's cheek. "Yeah, neither did I." She paused, biting her lower lip. "But I think I'm ready to forgive you."
Adam just nodded, afraid that whatever he replied would ruin this perfect moment between the two of them. A smile slowly formed on his lips. In his mind he had played a million of scenarios where Jane would forgive him, but he didn't think he would ever actually hear her say it. But she did. She really did.
Joan moved her hand away from Adam's and put it in her lap, playing with the hemline of her light blue skirt. She looked up and said, "Adam, can I ask you something?"
He looked into her soft, brown eyes, pleading for her to not ruin what had just fallen so immaculately into place. "Yeah, sure," he answered.
"Did you love her?" Joan asked, her voice still not bitter but merely, almost casually enquiring.
Adam winced. He knew Joan could only be speaking about Bonnie and it still made bile rise up in his throat to think back on what he had done. Months ago, he had attempted to apologize to Joan, to explain his motives, to show his remorse and his undying love for her, beloved Jane, despite having slept with someone else. What could he say that would make her understand now?
So he simply shook his head, looking down in shame.
"Then why did you sleep with her, Adam?" Joan asked in a tone that had a stinging quality, yet did not accuse openly.
Adam was lost for words, so he stammered. "I don't know. I—" He nervously plucked a leaf of grass from the ground. "I just wanted to do it, you know. Maybe I wanted to punish you for not sleeping with me." He looked at Joan now, admitting, "I know that's so wrong, I don't know what I was thinking. But it wasn't only you, maybe I also thought I didn't deserve you. Sometimes I felt that what we had wasn't real, and Bonnie somehow was."
He kept his gaze on her face, trying to read from her face if he had just dug his own grave or if he could detect a trace of understanding. Not sure what to make of her expression, he added, "I know that sounds so lame. It doesn't make any sense."
Joan met Adam's gaze and said, "I think it does."
Adam's eyes widened in surprise. How could she understand when it still didn't make perfect sense to him? But he was prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt.
Joan looked even more intensely into his eyes and told him, "Just promise me one thing, Adam."
He could only reply one thing: "Anything."
"Don't ever do anything like that again."
Tears shot into Adam's eyes again, but he quickly blinked them away as he took Joan's hand in his and squeezed it. "I won't," he said with complete conviction and resolve in his voice. "I promise by the grace of God."
A shadow of a smile passed over Joan's face, but it soon turned into something Adam couldn't quite identify; it was something that made his stomach clench. His face fell as she withdrew her hand from his grasp. "What, Jane? What did I say?"
Joan quickly tried to cover her initial reaction to the God reference. "What? Oh, no, it's... it's nothing."
But it wasn't nothing. God had let her down, more than once. She had believed in ripples, she had seen them. But Ryan had shown her otherwise. And God had not been a great help. Had she lost her faith? She didn't want to think about that now, what counted was that she had found Adam again, and he had found her. She would work on her relationship with God later, after she had reinstated her connection to the only person she had ever truly fallen in love with.
Adam studied Joan, something was bothering her, something that his comment about God seemed to have triggered. Something she didn't feel comfortable to share. That's what it boiled down to in the end, wasn't it: Trusting each other. Was that also what had driven him to Bonnie—the knowledge that Jane had secrets she wasn't sharing with him?
Patience, he told himself. He needed to be more patient. Maybe she would eventually trust him enough to share her secrets with him. Patience would eventually reward him, just like it had now rewarded him with this amazing kiss, this amazing night.
Encouraged by Joan's physical proximity, he leaned closer to her and noticed her doing the same. Their noses brushed against each other just before their lips met, enveloping each other in another passionate kiss that sent shivers down Adam's spine. Oh God, how he had missed her! While they kissed, he drew her closer and held her as if he would never let her go.
He eventually had to when Joan carefully withdrew from their kiss. She leaned her head on his shoulder and sighed in delight. "You know, if I had the power to do magic, I would cast a spell so that this night would never end."
Adam smiled at that. "You don't have to cast spells to do magic, Jane," he told her softly as he put his arm around her shoulder and gently drew her to him, so her head ended up resting in his lap.
She looked up at him, changing the subject. "So, Washington State, huh?"
"Yeah, their arts program is really good. And they offered me the best scholarship."
"Then we will both be going away," Joan told him, perhaps a bit too matter-of-factly.
"You're going away?" he asked in surprise.
"The paperwork just came through today. I will be doing an internship as a community service volunteer in Germany for a year."
Adam wasn't sure whether to be happy or disappointed. He wanted her to be happy, to have her own life, to let her follow her own ambitions. But he was so scared of losing her again. Germany. That was so far away. Not like L.A. or Florida or New York, where you could just board a plane and be there in a couple of hours. He tried to keep his voice positive. "That's cool. When are you leaving?"
"Then we have two and a half months," Adam stated, playing with a strand of Joan's hair in his lap.
"And then what?" Joan asked, sounding unsure. Was this really what she wanted? To get back together with Adam, only for them to be separated again so soon? Somehow the whole concept of going overseas didn't sound so appealing anymore.
Adam shrugged slightly. "I don't know. Guess we'll have to see how this is going to turn out."
"Yeah, we'll have to see." She shifted in Adam's lap and sat up. "Shouldn't we get back? Knowing my parents, they will be sending a search party if I don't turn up on the radar soon."
They got up at the same time and Joan took Adam's hand again as they walked back to where the party action was. Adam was sure she would release his grip, once they came into view of the other students and party guests but was surprised that she not only didn't let go but seemed to increase her hold of his hand. They approached the table Luke and Grace were still occupying, engaged in an animated discussion. Luke noticed them first and nudged Grace's arm.
"What? I—" she shot at Luke, but when Luke jerked his head in Joan and Adam's direction, her blue eyes stared at them holding hands questioningly. "Are you...?" she addressed Joan and Adam, letting the question hang in mid-air.
Joan just nodded and Adam's sheepish smile spoke volumes.
After Joan and Adam had sat down at their table, Grace looked at Adam and said, "Don't mess it up this time, Rove."
Luke added, "Or I will so kick your ass, man."
Adam had to laugh. "Unchallenged, yo," he replied.
Grace passed him and Joan a can of soda. "Here, let's toast." She looked around at the faces of her friends to see if anyone was taking the bait. No one was, so Grace herself raised her can and said simply, "To the future."
Their cans collided and Luke, Adam and Joan joined in and said in unison, "To the future."