A Friend In Need...

by TeeJay


Summary:
Adam has the stomach flu and Grace asks Joan to look after him since his dad is out of town. Post season two, Adam/Joan and a fair share of Adam & Grace. COMPLETE.

Author's Note:
Awww, I was longing for something corny, cheesy, schmaltzy, angsty, fluffy and pathetically predictable, so this poured out of me. I know, I know, it's horribly cliché and maybe also a bit gross (you'll see what I mean when you get there—and I'm sorry about that), but I still enjoyed writing it a lot.

And just in case you're thinking I'm updating so many of my stories these days that I can't be doing anything other than writing these stories in my free time, well... you're kinda right. :o) Actually, most of my WIP stories already have more than one unposted chapter lying around on my hard drive that just need a little re-editing. That's what I've been doing lately, re-editing stuff that I had already written. I've also had a week off from work, that's why I've been doing so much in the fan fiction department. Not that I have to justify myself, I just don't want anything to think I'm a pathetic loser who has absolutely no life. Okay, I am, so never mind. :-P A friendly warning, though: Enjoy it while it lasts, I'm starting a new job on Wednesday, and I don't think I'll get much done, fan fiction-wise, in the next couple of weeks, seeing how I also have to find a new apartment and move.

I should add that I was in a very forgiving mood when I wrote this, so it's not one of those let's-hate-Adam-for-what-he-did days. You can probably guess where this will be going. But I'm not going to say any more at this point. For the rest you have to read the story. Warning: It gets really really corny towards the end. And don't get me started on whether this story is realistic or not. Probably the latter. But what the heck, I wanted it that way anyway. If you think it's too far fetched, then blame... I don't know... Les Moonves. I like schmaltzy and unrealistic every once in a while. This was my treat for the month.

Please leave a review, it'll make my day—unless you're flaming, but past experience has taught me that most reviewers are a) very polite, b) very enthusiastic, c) very friendly and d) a wonderful bunch of fellow obsessees who are just as crazy as I am. Hope you won't prove me wrong.

I'm dedicating this story to the guys as NEIAS who are writing such a wonderful virtual third season of Joan of Arcadia. Ever since they started it, I can't wait for my Saturday mornings to arrive when I can go online and read the latest episode they posted. Please keep up the great work, guys! You rock! (Check it out at www. neias. net/virtualthree)

And for once, my fellow Joan/Adam obsessee GermanJoan didn't have a part in most of this. This storyline was entirely concocted in my own head. Sorry for that, Anne, but I had to write part 1 down before I had a chance to consult you. :o) Thanks for your help on the second part, though.

And I just realized that, theoretically, this story could take place in my future Joaniverse (the one I invented for the "Old Wounds"/"Time's A Great Healer" storyline). But I'm not sure I want it to, because in it, Adam becomes this really despicable guy. And for this story, I didn't want him to be despicable. And he doesn't have to be, it was just one of those completely irrelevant things floating around in my head.

Disclaimer:
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 key jangles metallically as I put it in the hole and turn it. The door opens when I turn the doorknob and I walk into the small hallway of the Rove residence, remembering how I came to get here.

"Girardi, I need you to do me a favor," Grace says to me boldly in the school hallway, on this way too early, way too drab Monday morning.

I look at her quizzically, because Grace usually isn't one for asking for favors. "Like what?" I inquire, carefully waiting for some lame task she wants me to do. Am I not doing enough "favors" for other people already?

"Like going to Rove's house after school today."

I wait for a forthcoming explanation with raised eyebrows, but seeing that this is Grace, I have to worm it out of her. "And do what?"

"And..." She waves her hands dismissively. "...you know, play nurse."

"Nurse?" I ask, exasperation creeping into my voice. Grace, for goodness' sake, do I have to shake it out of you?

"Yeah. Rove's dad left town for a couple of days and Rove came down with the stomach flu or something. He's been puking his guts out since yesterday morning. See, I have this thing after school, and he... I guess someone should check on him." Grace looks down to the floor, as if the sheer admission of caring about Adam's welfare is something to be ashamed of.

"Okay," I agree. "I can do that."

Grace looks up at me, silently trying to discern if I really am okay with it. She knows as well as I do that things between me and Adam haven't exactly been peachy ever since the spring. I guess she's satisfied with what she sees because she fishes a set of keys from her pocket and hands it to me. "The keys to his house," she says without further information before she walks off to class.

I quietly walk up the stairs, wincing as a few steps creak when I step on them. I know where Adam's bedroom is, I've been here maybe two or three times, seeing that Adam spends most of his time in the shed and not in his bedroom—or any other room of the house, for that matter.

I tiptoe to his bedroom, slowly opening the door, in case he's asleep. I don't want to wake him if he's really that sick. When I step in, I see that the curtains are drawn shut, but hazy light from the rainy day outside filters through a gap in the drapes, just so the light in the room is subdued but not completely shut out. I try to close the door behind me as soundlessly as I can and walk over to his bed.

I notice the bucket whose bottom is covered by a layer of water standing next to the bed. Suddenly, I feel like I'm invading his privacy, like it's not my place to be here. Carefully, I study his face. He is lying in his bed, his body and face turned towards me, eyes closed, breathing deeply. Sleep has him in its throes, like I had suspected. I notice the sweaty dampness of his forehead, his face looks too ashen, too gray, even for his usually pale complexion.

I pull off my shoes and quietly sit down on the floor next to his bed. I know it's irrational and weird, but I'm suddenly overcome by the need to hear him breathe and watch him sleep, wishing for his body to fight the infection and make him get better.

I sit there for minutes, just studying the silent beauty that his face still radiates, even when he's not feeling well. I want to stroke his hair and put a cool, damp cloth on his forehead, but I don't, for lack of a washcloth and fear it would awaken him after all.

A low moan escaping from his lips pulls me from my reverie. He moves in his sleep, muttering something unintelligible at first, then it turns into a name. A name that makes me cringe, because it's the one he usually calls me. "Jane," he moans, writhing in his sleep. "I don't... I can't... I need you."

Unbidden, my eyes fill with tears and I quickly get up from my position on the floor. I sit down on the edge of the bed and take his hand that he has removed from under the covers. It feels clammy and yet hot in mine.

"Shh, Adam, I'm here," I whisper. "It's okay."

His moans lessen and eventually subside. I can't help but softly stroke his hair now, willing all my healthy strength into him, wishing I could take some of his discomfort away by just forming a physical connection.

And maybe somehow I did because his body has become quiet and still again. I release my gentle grip on his hand and place it carefully on the blanket. With a last stroke of his hair, I whisper, "Get well soon," and turn around to leave his room as quietly as I've come.

When I've almost reached the door, my shoes in hand, I hear his voice, strained and tired. "Jane, don't go."

I turn around, not sure if he's talking in his sleep again or if he's awake. I look into his soft brown eyes that, although glazed over, are now open.

"Adam," I say in a very low voice. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to wake you."

He just looks at me. I don't know if he's too tired or to miserable to actually say it, but I can read in his eyes that I shouldn't be sorry, that he's glad I'm here. Or is that just wishful thinking? "Look, I just wanted to see how you were doing." My mouth forms into a sheepish grin. "Well, to be honest, Grace asked me to check on you. I hear you had a run-in with some nasty stomach bug," I try to joke.

He smiles back weakly. "Yeah. Some sucker, and I have the feeling he's come to stay."

The silence that follows is somehow uncomfortable and comforting at the same time. "Look, I should go downstairs, you need to rest," I say matter-of-factly. "I'll make you some tea. Or just call if you need anything, I can stay a while."

I have almost turned around again when he says in a whispered plea, "Please stay."

Like I have a choice now; what can I do but to obey? "Okay," I whisper, walking back to his bed. He moves over slightly to indicate I should sit down next to him—which I do. I try to put on a brave smile, one that gives him the strength he lacks.

Moments pass without conversation, we're just taking comfort in each other's presence for once. Then I see a shadow passing over his face, it contorts in discomfort suddenly. "Oh God," he moans more than whispers and leans over the side of the bed, retching into the bucket that stands on the floor.

And even though it's kind of gross, it doesn't bother me at all. My hands find their way to his arched back, stroking it softly, much like I remember my mother doing when I was sick and throwing up. When he's done, he grabs a Kleenex from his nightstand, wipes his mouth and exhaustedly sinks back down onto his pillows, closing his eyes.

"Sorry," he half whispers.

"No. No, it's okay," I reassure him. Intuitively and inexplicably, my fingers have found their way to his face again, smoothing away a few strands of hair that stick to his sweaty forehead. "Don't worry about it," I tell him again.

He just nods slowly, swallowing. My stomach is suddenly flooded over with unfamiliar butterflies and a deep longing wells up in me to trace his jaw with my lips until they reach his. But I know that this is neither the place nor the time, so I try to ignore it as best as I can. By all means, I should still be mad at him, should want for him to rot in hell for all eternity, but how can I when I he is lying here like this?

Before I even know or realize it, my mouth has opened and I say, "Adam, I—" but then I stop. Miss you? Still love you? That was what I was going to say, wasn't it?

His eyes open groggily and he gives me a questioning look. "You what?" he asks softly, and the magic of the moment has deflagrated like silently exploding gunpowder.

I sigh, then smile a smile that I hope doesn't look as forced as it feels. "Look, do you want something to eat or drink? Some chamomile tea or toast or something?"

"No, thanks," he says. "I don't think I can keep anything down."

"Okay," I answer. Boy, I sound like a mother, don't I? But then maybe that's exactly what he needs right now. "Anything else I can do?"

He lies still for a moment, looking at me, and I get the feeling that he wants to say something he doesn't know how. "What is it?" I pressure him carefully.

He swallows again and his eyes are full of meaning despite their glassiness, filled with a sadness and sorrow that one seems to drown in if staring at them for too long. It's like they're asking, 'I want you to forgive me.' Haven't I done that a long time ago? But I've never told him that, I'm not quite ready to take the plunge for what might be to follow if I do.

He blinks and then says, "Can you get me that novel from the desk?"

"Sure," I answer, almost sighing in relief.

I walk over to his desk that is strewn with pencils, papers, drawings and other school stuff. Among it lies a fairly new looking paperback, titled 'The Shipping News'. I pick it up and vaguely remember movie posters advertising a movie with the same title.

When I walk back to the bed, I ask, "Wasn't this a movie not too long ago?"

Adam shrugs slightly. "I don't know. Maybe."

I have to smile despite myself. I know Adam prefers black and white or these artsy retro movies, I should have figured he wouldn't be up to date with latest developments in the mainstream movie scene. I turn the book over and quickly scan the text on the back cover. It sounds intriguing.

"Is it any good?" I ask.

"I don't know, I haven't started yet," Adam answers.

I don't know what comes over me when I suggest, "Hey, why don't I read it to you?" I remember that when I'm sick, I can't concentrate on anything for longer than maybe 15 minutes.

He looks at me, a little surprised, but pleased and somehow grateful at the same time. "Okay," he says, but it sounds as enthusiastic as I imagine he can be in his state.

So I pull up the worn armchair that stands in the corner and place my feet on the edge of his bed, so my knees are drawn up slightly. After switching on the lamp on his bedside table, I place the book on my thighs, open it on the first page and start reading aloud. At first it feels weird; I haven't read anything to anyone for a long time. Even in school we usually don't read aloud anymore.

Soon, the novel has captivated both Adam and myself and I plow on, past chapter one and well into chapter two, which aren't that long anyway. When I have finished the second chapter, I pause and look at Adam. His eyes are closed, his breaths are even and coming at regular intervals.

"Hey," I whisper very lowly. "You asleep?"

When there is no answer, I know that he is. I give him a last smile and he stirs a little when I remove my feet from his bed. For lack of a proper bookmark, I put a folded kleenex where I stopped reading and put the book on his bedside table. I silently get up, switch off the lamp and tiptoe out of the room, leaving the door ajar this time.

Downstairs, I check the refrigerator and other supplies, but Grace seems to have done her job well, I don't see any vital groceries and necessities missing. I check the plastic milk container, taking the screw cap off, sniffing it. It still smells okay, the 'best before' date not yet expired. Not that I think Adam should or would want to drink any milk today anyway.

I get my sling bag from the hallway where I left it and unpack the homework I still have to do. Two very quiet but productive hours later, I close the history book when I'm done before I put it back in my bag.

Before I leave the house, I rummage around in the kitchen. Mom's words are ringing in my ears about the dangers of dehydration if you're not drinking enough when you have the stomach flu. After checking some of the cupboards and drawers, I find a brand-new box with chamomile teabags and heat a mug of water in the microwave.

I go back up to his room with the mug of steaming tea. I tentatively edge closer to the bed; his back is turned towards me, he's obviously still sleeping. I put the tea onto his bedside table, walk over to his desk and onto an empty sheet of paper I scribble a quick note:

Adam,
I didn't want to wake you again. I'm going home now, Grace will be back tomorrow after school. There's food in the kitchen, in case you feel like eating. Please try to drink some tea, you need the fluids. Call me if you need anything.
Joan
PS: Get well soon.
PPS: I'm sure Ms. Lischak misses you too.

I put a smiley behind the last comment that looks a little out of shape but still friendly.

I fold up the note and put it on his bedside table atop the novel that is still lying untouched since I placed it there.

After I have locked the front door, I take out my cell phone as I walk to the car and send Grace a text message that says 'Mission accomplished, Private Rove taken care of and checked up on. Think he will pull through. See you tomorrow. Double-O-Joan.'


Four days later, I am standing on his front porch again, this time without keys but with a Tupperware container in my hands. I ring the doorbell and the sound of approaching feet shortly thereafter tells me that either Mr. Rove is back home or Adam is actually up. And there he sure is, opening the door, dressed in a black pair of sweat pants and a gray t-shirt, smiling that disarming, shy smile of his at me. "Jane," he says, his face lightening up as she realizes who has come to visit.

"Yeah," I say. "Surprise. Grace said you're doing better and I thought maybe you were up to some home-cooked Girardi chicken soup." I lift the Tupperware container to indicate what I brought with me.

"Sounds great," he says, stepping aside to invite me in. I trudge after him into the kitchen where I put the container onto the counter next to the sink. He stands hesitantly across from me as I ask, "Are you hungry at all? You want some right away? Or should I put it in the refrigerator?"

"Soup sounds good right about now," he says and walks over to one of the cupboards from which he gets two soup plates and then two spoons from a drawer. He uses the microwave to heat up the soup in its container. Somehow none of us knows what to say while we listen to the quiet whirring of the microwave until it indicates with a 'ping' that the soup is done.

Adam fills both dishes with hot and steaming soup and we each balance them carefully as we walk over to the table with our respective plates. We sit down opposite each other and I can't help study his face as he is silently eating his soup. Some of the color has returned to his cheeks, but he still looks paler than usual. At least the glassiness has vanished from his eyes, I notice, as he steals a quick but nervous glance at me.

"So, you're doing better?" I casually break the silence.

He nods slightly. "Yeah, I think I stopped throwing up right about... uhm... Tuesday." Then he looks a little abashed, adding, "Sorry, not the best imagery while you're eating."

I wave his comment aside. "Don't worry, growing up with two brothers makes you immune to all things gross and disgusting. You don't wanna know the stuff I've seen."

"Unchallenged," he acknowledges with a lopsided smile. When he's finished his soup, he puts his spoon down and looks at me, his eyes filled with such meaning that I don't think I can stand his gaze upon me any longer. "Thanks for coming by on Monday. I..." He hesitates, maybe he's not sure how he's going to say whatever he wants to say. Then he adds, "I really appreciate it."

"Don't mention it," I downplay. "I actually got most of my homework for the week done. It's amazing how much you accomplish when there's isn't some annoying parent or sibling barging in every half hour."

I have finished my soup in the meantime as well and I get up to put my plate next to the sink among the assortment of older dirty dishes, probably having accumulated over the last few days. Almost automatically, I open the water taps and pour warm water into the sink, adding washing up liquid to it.

"What are you doing?" Adam inquires softly.

"What's it look like? I'm washing up."

"You don't have to do that," he urges me.

"I know. But I want to," I tell him cheerfully. I hand him the tea towel that's hanging over the oven door rail. "You can do the drying."

"Uhm... sure."

As I am cleaning dishes with my sleeves rolled up, I ask Adam, "So, when's your dad come back?"

"On Sunday," he answers, then, after a pause, he stops drying the mug he's holding and I feel his gaze piercing me. If the intensity in his eyes was bundled into laser beams, I would no doubt have a red hot hole burned through my flesh by now. "Why are you doing this?" he asks me quietly.

I look back at him, interrupting my momentary dishwashing activities as well, my hands dripping with foamy water. "Helping a friend in need?" I ask more than answer. "Because that's what friends are for, right?"

"Yeah," he says and it sounds like a resigned sigh. It sounds like he wants to say 'I wish we were more than friends, though.'

Don't I secretly wish the same thing? Then why is it so hard to admit that? Is it the fear of being disappointed again? The fear of being let down, of getting hurt? A little of all of the above, probably, and I wish there was something Adam or I could do to make them go away. But they probably never would, never will. Guess now it's up to me to accept them and decide whether I can live with their presence andstill take the plunge.

I tell myself I need more time. Who am I kidding. It's been four months, how much more time can I need?

I resume washing the dishes in silence, the movements automatic and practiced. When I'm done, I pull the plug and watch the water vanish into the drain, accompanied by gurgling sounds, the smell of lemony detergent still in my nose.

I dry my hands on a towel next to the sink and help Adam put the last of the dried dishes back where they belong as best as I can in the unfamiliar kitchen. When we're done, I get my sling bag, telling Adam, "Oh, I almost forgot." I rummage around in my bag and hand him a DVD I haven't had the time to gift-wrap.

He takes it wordlessly and reads the title of the movie aloud: "The Shipping News." The surprise is evident in his tone.

"Yeah, I saw it at the video store. It was on sale, so I couldn't resist." I smile at him. "I hope it's good. Starring Kevin Spacey and Julianne Moore, so I don't think it can be that bad."

"You haven't seen it?" Adam asks me, carefully studying me.

"No, didn't have time," I simply say.

"You wanna watch it with me?" His eyes are on me again, silently pleading for me to say yes.

Do I? Do I want to watch the movie? Yeah, why not, I like Kevin Spacey. Do I want to watch the movie with Adam? I'm not sure. It's like a little angel and a little devil are fighting a battle on my shoulders. The angel says no on the one shoulder, the devil says yes on the other. No. Yes. No. Yes. Yes? Yes, okay.

"Uhm, yeah, sure," I say out loud.

"Cool," Adam says, his eyes now glinting with a spark of happiness that I want to hug him for. He walks into the living room and I follow him.

"Right now?" I ask him, my voice sounding almost panicky as I realize that maybe he got the wrong idea. Or that I did.

"Yeah, is that a problem?" Disappointment has subtly found its way back into his tone.

I think quickly, looking at my watch. It's half past seven. I try to remember if there was anything urgent I still had to do, but can't come up with anything. "I... I just have to call my mom, okay?" I tell Adam as I go through my bag to find my cell phone.

He nods once. "Okay."

I dial our number and walk back into the kitchen to get some privacy. I hear Kevin's voice at the other end. It's when Kevin says Mom and Dad aren't home that I remember they were going to the opera tonight. I tell Kevin that I'll be home late because I'm gonna watch a DVD with Adam and, out of precaution, tell him not to say anything about spending time with the ex—because I already know he had a taunting remark readily available on his lips. I can almost hear him sneering at me, but he still tells me to have fun.

I walk back into the living room where I meet Adam's expectant eyes that are trained on me. "Ready to roll," I say to him, plopping down onto the couch to indicate that I'm all set for movie night. Adam sets up the DVD player and TV before he sits down next to me, with enough space between us to keep a well defined and careful distance.

A push onto the right remote control button sets the movie in motion. Very soon, we watch Kevin Spacey, taking us through bulky and bearish Quoyle's life story. About one third into the movie, Adam pushes the Pause button and looks at me; my arms are hugging my torso, my feet propped up under me, sitting in a cross-legged position. "Are you cold?" he asks.

It's true, I am. Well, maybe not cold, but a little chilly. I get chilly easily, especially when I sit still for a long time. Almost shyly, I nod. "Yeah, a little," I admit.

Adam gets up and fetches a blanket from the armchair next to the couch. "Here," he says, placing the blanket in my lap. He sits down next to me again, and before I can protest or sneak away, I feel his arm around my shoulder, drawing my torso towards his. I tense for a split second but then can't help but relax into his embrace, letting the warmth of his body envelop my back and shoulders.

"Better?" he asks and I nod, the back of my head scraping against his collarbone that feels even bonier than I remember. I spread the blanket out over my thighs as Adam hits the Start button on the remote control to continue the DVD. I try not to be irritated by our physical proximity and concentrate on the movie, but I already like it so much that I have no trouble being engrossed in it after only about another half minute.

We watch the rest in silence, both captivated by the rough and untamed but wildly beautiful Newfoundland landscape, going perfectly well with the plot of the movie. When the last scene fades to black and the credits start rolling to enchanting Irish sounding music, we both sit still for another minute, just watching the text scroll down the screen. I can feel his hand softly stroking my upper arm, an intimate gesture that both comforts and scares me at the same time.

I quickly wipe at my cheeks because—of course—I have shed a few tears towards the end there. Adam notices it and whispers, "Hey, you're crying."

I have to laugh a little. "Yeah. I'm a regular crybaby when I watch movies like this. Just can't help it."

"Are you okay?" His voice sounds genuinely concerned.

"Adam, it's just a movie. I'm fine," I say, realizing the paradox of me sounding so uplifting while there are still wet tears clinging to my eyelashes.

It is then that I feel his hand moving to the back of my neck, taking my hair and combing through it lovingly with both hands. I am suddenly both electrified and frozen rigid. He leans down and so softly kisses the top of my head while he's still stroking my hair.

In something that sounds like a sob, I blurt out, "Adam, don't."

He stops in mid motion, letting go of my hair. It's like I've just slapped him in the face, yelling 'Hands off!' I don't know why, but I feel hot new tears shooting into my eyes. I quickly try to blink them away.

Slowly sitting up, moving away from him, I don't dare look into his eyes as he sits motionless, but that is exactly where my gaze is involuntarily drawn. And I see just what I didn't want to see but expected to see. Sadness and sorrow and disappointment, all so very clear and outspoken that every pore in my body screams to want to hug him and kiss him and make it all go away. But I can't, I still can't, so I just whisper, "I'm sorry."

"Yeah, so am I," he replies, the sadness and regret in his voice matching mine.

But I can't leave it at that, so I say with an urgency that I hadn't intended, "Look, Adam, it's not that I don't—that I don't want to, it's just..." How can I say it? How can I explain it to him?

Before I can finish the sentence that I've left hanging, he asks me in that low voice of his that can still send shivers through my body, "Are you ever going to forgive me?"

My eyes are brimming over with tears now, one dislodges itself and flows down my cheek. Now I'm crying for real, and we both know it. "I've forgiven you a long time ago," I finally admit to him. "Adam, I'm just scared," I sob.

"Of what?" he demands, his voice even lower and more gentle than I thought possible.

"Of everything. Of what's gonna happen, of the implications, the consequences... Of getting hurt again."

"Jane." It's a simple name, but into that name he manages to pour the meaning of a thousand words. Words like 'I'm so sorry. I promise it won't happen again. I will never hurt you ever again. I wish so much you would forgive me my mistake. I would give my life for you. I love you. I have always loved you. Please come back to me and save me if you think it's worth saving me.'

But he's not saying any of that, he just says that name that doesn't even really exist except between the two of us. He lowers his head, but I can still see that I'm not the only one who's crying silently.

I break the silence, have to break it. "I don't know if I'm ready. I... I wish so much that it could be the way it was before, but you know that it never will be. And I don't know if... if loving you despite that can ever be enough."

His head comes up and he looks at me, not bothering to wipe away his own tears. "I know," he whispers. "I know it'll never go away. And I know I can't undo what I've done. And I love you, Jane, I love you so much and I am more sorry than I can ever say." His eyes suddenly become colder, determined. "But if that's not enough, then maybe we should stop right here, right now. Stop being friends and seeing each other." Adding in a whisper, he says, "Because I don't know how much more of this I can take." I watch as another stray tear seeps down his cheek—and it breaks my heart.

Not able to hold my emotions in check, let out another sob and wrap my arms around him, drawing him as close as I can. I sob into his hair, cry for all the things we once had and that now are missing from our lives. I can feel him shaking in my arms and between sobs I breathe into his hair, "I don't wanna lose you. I don't think I could stand losing you."

For a while, we just hold onto each other before I hear him sniffle and say, "You lost me a long time ago."

I gently push him from our embrace and wipe the tears from his cheeks with my thumbs, my hands cupping his face. "But I want to find you again. I want to find the old Adam again. You think we can go looking for him together?"

His hands find their way onto mine and he softly pries them away from his face to hold them in his lap. "I think he wants to be found," he tells me, "And there's only one person who's capable of doing that."

I smile through my tears, my vision still blurry. "Adam," I utter, and suddenly I lean in as he moves closer to me. Our lips meet in the sweetest salty kiss, a passion washing over us that none of us had thought still existed.

When we break apart, our eyes still closed, we both open them at the same time. Not only did our longing for each other match perfectly, our smiles now do too. I feel his arm wrapping around my shoulder again and as he tugs at it, I give in, lean my head on his shoulder and let his fingers play with the hairline on my temple. I haven't felt like this in a long time and I sense that he hasn't either.

Maybe our forced separation even brought us closer together. That's a possibility I have never considered.

We stay like this for a long time without any words being spoken until I almost fall asleep and catch myself nodding off at the last moment.

"I should go," I say as I slowly get up.

When I look into his eyes, I can see that he'd rather like me to stay, but he tells me, "Okay."

He follows me to the door and opens it to let me out. "Can I call you tomorrow?" he asks, and there is a certain insecure reserve in his question.

I quickly smooth away a strand of hair from the side of his face as I say, "Please do."

He smiles that same shy smile that he greeted me with, but his eyes are glittering with a happiness that I haven't seen for a very, very long time.

"So long, Adam Rove," I tell him before I turn around and walk towards the car.

"Bye, Jane," he says, and I can hardly keep from bouncing along the street as I approach the car. I open the door and sit down in the driver's seat. As I put my hands on the steering wheel, I draw in a deep breath. And then there are the words forming in my head that say, Joan, what are you doing?

But I quickly give them a metaphorical kick in the butt. This feels too good to be wrong, then how can it be wrong? And for the first time in months, I know that I am ready to take the plunge—with all its risks and complications and implications. And wordlessly I say to Him, Please, God, don't let this be the wrong decision. Don't let this be another mistake.

Through the windshield I can see a dark cloud being blown away by the wind to reveal a clear and full moon that casts its blue-white light onto the alley stretching out in front of me—and I know He gave me my answer.


END OF PART 1