Elya Rove wants to know why. Take a peek into a darker future Joaniverse.
Not much to say about this one. This stemmed from another scene-flash, one I had when I watched "Medium". Not sure it turned out the way I wanted it to be, but there's nothing we can do about that now.
This is like nothing I've written before in this fandom, and I never thought I'd write something like this. Don't worry, it's not R-rated or anything. (Been there, done that.) Consider this a peek into a rather dark and depressing future Joaniverse. One I wouldn't like to see happening, to be honest.
There's a lot of back story left unexplained, and I'm not going to explain it. There won't be a sequel to this. Take it as a status quo and weave your own background story with regard to what might have happened. I think it's pretty apparent that it involves Ryan. Feel free to let me know about your ideas in a review if you like. :o)
These characters and settings are not mine (except maybe for Elya Rove). 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.
Chapter 1 – The Truth And Other Lies
"Dad, why did Mom leave?"
14-year-old Elya Rove looked at her father, who was sitting next to her bed. His face had been calm and loving as Adam Rove studied his daughter, but the direct question made a ripple of something unpleasant, something painful disrupt the quiet contemplation in his features. Even in his mid-thirties, he was still as handsome as the shy teenager he had been in High School, except maybe for the look of innocent reticence that had long since vanished.
Elya sat up in her bed and almost flinched at the sudden sadness she read in his eyes. She saw he tried to cover it up as soon as he became aware that she had noticed it.
They didn't talk about her mother often. They didn't talk about her mother—period. It was 'thema non grata' in the Rove household.
She could see he had trouble finding the right thing to say. But she didn't want the right thing to say; she wanted the truth. She had wondered about 'the truth' for so long, had not had the courage to ask the person closest to being able to offer it, next to her mother.
Her father finally spoke, his voice softer and more subdued than usual. "She ... she had to go, honey. There was something important she had to do."
"Had to?" Elya wasn't going to settle for some vague allusion tonight. "What could be so important that she just abandons her husband and daughter?" Elya's voice became more pressing, more angry with every question she asked. When her father didn't answer immediately, she almost whispered, "Is it because of me?"
Adam's answer was immediate and surprisingly determined. "What? No. No, it's not because of you. Why would you even think that? Your mother loves you very much."
"Does she? Then tell me, why did she leave us?" Elya's voice was laced with sarcastic anger now. "Why did she have to go?"
Her father sighed, his eyes shooting up, begging her not to press any further. She knew this was painful for him, but she wanted to know, needed to know. "Look," he tried to placate his daughter. "It's complicated."
"Then explain it to me."
"I ..." he wanted to fend off, but thought the better of it. "Your mother is a very special person. She has a very special gift, something that ... that most people don't understand."
"I'm not 'most people'," Elya said in a harsh tone. "I'm her daughter. Doesn't that count for something?"
"Yes. Yes, that counts for something, Elya. But it's not my place to tell you."
"Then whose place is it? Mom's?" She snorted out a sarcastic laugh. "Yeah, like that's gonna happen. I don't think she's coming back. I mean, you've been saying for years that she'd return. Maybe I'm just sick of waiting."
"Elya—" Adam said, wanting to calm his daughter, but she wouldn't let him.
"Why, Dad? Why can't you tell me what's going on? I'm old enough, don't you think?"
She was on a streak, and she knew it, couldn't hold back all her anger, all her frustration. "Why is it that you talk with her on the phone at night in hushed voices, when you think I'm not listening. Why does she never call me, want to speak to me? Why is it that to me you pretend she doesn't exist? Why?"
The last question came out almost as a whisper and it made Adam's eyes go even wider with shock at the sudden realization that his daughter knew much more than she let on. "We ... we thought it would be easier that way," he said, his voice low.
"Easier?" Elya repeated. "Easier for who? For you? Must be, because it sure isn't for me." Her words had gone back to spewing pure sarcasm. "Not a day goes by where I don't wonder where my mother is, who my mother is. I barely have any recollection of her. Why do you think it would be easy to just pretend that I don't have a mother?"
Adam had to swallow, and it was like the movement only increased the knot in his stomach. What could he tell his daughter—his daughter who was hurting and wanted answers? Answers that he couldn't give her, that only Joan could give her, if only she wouldn't refuse to talk to her own daughter.
How often had he tried when they talked on the phone? 'She really misses you,' he would say. She would just fall silent or change the subject. 'Can't you talk to her, explain it to her?' he would ask. She would answer in an exasperated voice, 'Adam, you know I can't.'
He had long given up trying to convince her. There was a time when he thought he'd had some kind of leverage on his wife. When had he lost the ability to make her listen to reason? Make her listen to him at all?
And now his daughter—their daughter—thought he was hiding her own mother from her. And maybe he was. He looked at her, studied her—and almost flinched at how her soft, brown eyes, now radiating with a heated passion, reminded him of Joan's—of Jane's. God, Jane. He remembered Jane. Jane had long vanished from his life.
How could he explain to a fourteen-year-old why Joan had gone to fight her own fight? To fight God's fight. A fight that a husband and a daughter weren't included in. How could he explain to her that her mother talked to God. Yes, God. The God. 'No way!' she would say. Would she?
"Dad?" Elya's voice, now much softer, pulled him from his reverie.
He went from staring at his lap to meeting her eyes. He knew that he couldn't give her the truth, so he settled for the next best thing: honesty.
"Okay, look," he began. "I can't tell you her reasons for leaving, but you have to know that this is about something bigger. Something bigger than you and me. Something that would make you give up your family. Elya, she misses you and she loves you. She went away because she had to, and I swear, it had nothing to do with you. And if she could, she would come back and be the mother to you that she always wanted to be." He paused, swallowed hard, almost begged her. "Please, you have to believe me."
Elya looked at him for a long, silent moment before she whispered, "Okay. Okay, Dad, I believe you."
She could see that tears were starting to shimmer in his eyes, tears that she knew he wanted to hide. He got up from his chair and bent down to kiss her on the forehead. "Go to sleep now," he told her in almost a whisper. Then he left the room, not looking back.
Outside his daughter's bedroom door, Adam stood, trying to keep it together. He was sick of the self-pity, the aching longing for that missing part to make their once happy family be whole again.
He slowly walked to his own bedroom and sat down on the king size bed, one of which halfs was now vacant, empty, abandoned. He put his head in his hands and for a moment indulged in the hollow sadness that washed over him.
He looked up when he noticed sudden movement from the doorframe. Silent, careful steps came closer, a warm body settled next to him on the bed. He could feel his daughter's warmth lightening up the frosty atmosphere of the otherwise deserted room.
This room had once been a safe haven, a place he loved spending time in. Their amazing daughter had been conceived in this room.
Now it was just a place you went to sleep in when you fell into bed at the end of the day, exhausted from the physical work for the small salary that just barely managed for you to make a comfortable life for you and your child. He had gotten rid of the happy, colorful bedspread Joan found on a bazaar a while ago. He had gotten rid of everything that reminded him of her—of Joan. One day he had entered the room and in a bout of rage and self-pity carried everything to the attic that screamed her name at him every single day.
Afterwards, this room remained nothing more than a very utilitarian bedroom. A bed, two bedside tables, a wardrobe, a chest of drawers. What more did you need?
He suddenly felt a warm hand on his thigh and heard Elya's low voice. "Dad, it's okay to miss her."
He sniffled his nose once, rubbing the back of one hand under it as she continued, "I miss her too, even though I don't really know her."
"I know," he whispered back. "I know. And I'm sorry," he said softly.
"I don't think it's your fault either," she told him.
When had his daughter become so wise, when had she grown up this much?
"But, please, don't act like she doesn't exist. I want to know about her. I want to learn what kind of person she is. Don't you think I deserve to know?"
Adam nodded. Yes, she certainly deserved that. He put his arm around his daughter and drew her closer, so that she rested her head on his shoulder. "I'll tell you what I can, what I remember."
And he found that there was more about Jane he remembered than he thought possible.