My first Joan of Arcadia fic, set seven years after the very first episode. I despise in shows how people never believe someone who's completely (or at least, remotely) trusting, so that's why I wrote this, because I am so sick of Will and Helen and everyone bringing Joan down and blaming her for everything, even though I know she can't really tell them about God speaking with her anyway and it's all part of a fictional show. I love the show and I just finished watching season one and have yet to see season two, so maybe Joan gets some justice or something... but I kind of doubt it.
I don't own Joan of Arcadia.
Oh, by the way, Joan and Adam are engaged, Grace is in Romania doing her fight the power thing and is dating Luke, who's probably working on some discovery for science (I imagine; *shugs*), and Kevin is out of his wheelchair in continuation to the prediction that he'll dance at his wedding. Also, it was pointed out that Joan would be about twenty-three at the time of all this, so why would she and the rest of the Girardi children be at home still... I only realized this about the time I'd previously posted this, so let's just say that Luke and Kevin are only visiting and Joan is staying with her parents for the time being, until she and Adam are married.
It was the quietest night in Arcadia. Joan Girardi lay in her bed, exhausted by the past few days and their tragic occurrences, all because God had wanted her to play buddy to this girl, which, in retrospect, doesn't sound like such a bad idea.
However, it would have been better for Lisa not to have gotten killed in a stab fight.
It had been two days since Joan had last seen God, in whatever form He decided to come in. He consoled her a bit after Lisa's death, telling her that she did everything exactly as He asked and that Lisa had wanted to die. Was that supposed to make me feel better? she thought to herself over and over again. She'd liked Lisa, and now she couldn't stop thinking that she was her murderer.
Life sucks. And not even God came in to deny it.
She vaguely heard her mother call her down for dinner. Her feet dragged her down the stairs while she absently realized that she truthfully wasn't that hungry.
"Talking on the phone with Grace? Luke says that she's doing very well in Romania," Helen said, setting the table with plates and forks. Luke was cutting up the turkey, and Kevin was pouring drinks. Will wasn't home yet.
"I wasn't talking to Grace," Joan mumbled. She snatched a wad of napkins and dropped them onto the table.
Helen noticed the carelessness in her daughter, but said nothing, thinking she was going through another one of her phases like normal. After caring for Joan for that amount of time, she and the rest of the family knew not to bother her when she was acting so strange. Tons of odd things had happened to Joan, like when she bought a house for herself and Adam or when she crashed her car into a pole or the time she published a book—Joan, who couldn't even finish a book report—and though Helen and Will had intervened many, many times, it was evident to them that there was no stopping Joan when she went through these phases.
Joan had not told anyone of the recent death of her new, late friend. After the man who killed Lisa, well, killed her, the man had stabbed himself. Fun for Joan, she got the chance to watch not one, but two horrific deaths, and she kept it all a secret. She didn't know why. She didn't even tell Adam, her own fiancé. Perhaps, after all that had happened, she'd lost faith in whatever she'd had faith in before. How was she supposed to tell a person that?
Kevin walked and sat down at the table just as everyone else did. Apparently, his therapy was doing well, but Joan wasn't really listening to the conversation. The door slammed, and everyone who didn't literally speak with God on a daily basis greeted Will. Three murders had been solved, and the precinct was this close to solving two more.
"A young woman and a man were found in the dumpster right behind the Quickmart." This gained Joan's attention. "We estimate time of death, possibly two days ago."
"That's awful," Helen said. "Any idea who they were?"
Will shook his head. "Not a lick of ID on either. We're running for fingerprints right now."
"Her name's Lisa," Joan muttered before she could stop herself. Everyone looked at her.
"How would you know?" Kevin demanded, skeptical.
Joan internally groaned, but there was no way she could cover up her slipup. "Because I knew her. I saw her die."
"You saw a girl die and you didn't say anything?" Helen asked. This explained so much of the depressing behavior she'd been seeing in her child for the past two days.
"We were going to get ice cream," Joan explained, continuing on as if the conversation weren't anything at all. "She—Lisa, I mean—stopped and realized she'd left her wallet at home. We were going to take a shortcut back to her house, and then some guy with a knife came out of nowhere and stabbed her. There was nothing I could do." Tears welled in her eyes, but they didn't fall. She was sick of them falling. "Then he stabbed himself."
"And you just ran off?" Will said. "Joan, I'm a policeman! I need to know these things!"
There was a knock at the front door. No one went to answer it.
"What could you have done, anyway?" she snapped at her father. "Both she and her killer were dead! You can't bring her back to life, so what good is it?"
"Geez, Joan, calm down," said Kevin. "You're getting a little too loud for the dinner table."
The person at the door continued to knock, and still, no one answered.
"Joan, do not talk to your father like that. He's only trying to help," Helen instructed. "What were you thinking, going out so late like that? Who was this girl? Why didn't we meet her?"
"You wouldn't have understood," she murmured.
"We always try to understand, Joan."
Joan scoffed. "No you don't! You always think I'm going through something or that I'm crazy! I'm not crazy!"
"No, certainly not," Luke said sarcastically, causing Joan to throw a roll at his head.
"Joan, stop this right now!" Will ordered in such a commanding tone that all fell silent, all except for the knocking at the door. Irritated, Will said, "Would somebody go tell whoever is there that we're in the middle of a calm family discussion?!"
Luke stuck his tongue out at Joan and retreated to answer the door. Everyone waited until the person was gone before striking up their calm discussion again.
"They left!" Luke called, shutting the door. "I guess we scared them off."
"You're not helping," Helen told him.
And then, a voice came from the kitchen said, "We all help, Helen," and Joan's eyes widened. Unlike her family, she didn't have to look to see who it was. To everyone else, a teenage boy with gelled-up hair and a brown corduroy jacket was standing over the turkey, picking off pieces and putting them into his mouth, but to Joan, she knew that the boy was no ordinary boy.
Will shot up from the table and automatically went to grab his gun, but found that his holster was empty. He'd forgotten that he'd set his gun on the table in the living room.
The boy went on as if his shocking presence wasn't so shocking. "We can't help but help. It's human nature." He stuffed a last piece of turkey into his mouth and then wiped his hands on the dish rag next to the sink. He pointed to the turkey and looked at Helen. "This is very good, by the way."
"Who are you?" both Helen and Will asked in unison.
This was the last question on Joan's mind. "You're eating a turkey," she said to the boy she knew as God. "You're eating a turkey in my house. You are eating a turkey."
He waltzed into the dining room. "Yes, I am. Or was."
Joan blinked. "Isn't that a bit cannibalistic?"
"Do I look like a turkey, Joan?" He asked in such a serious, stoic way that Joan couldn't help but smile.
"Did you really just ask me that?" she snickered, and He returned her gesture of amusement but smiling back.
"Joan, who is this?" Helen asked edgily. "Why is he in our house and how did he get here?"
"I walked in," He answered coolly. "Just now."
"There wasn't anyone at the door," Luke protested.
"No, there wasn't. None that you could see, anyway."
Helen and Will glanced at each other, giving each other a look that said clearly, "We have a psychopath in our home—What do we do?"
Joan got to her feet, narrowing her eyes at the teenage boy named God. "Can I talk to you for a minute?"
He tilted his head to the side. "You forget, Joan, that I have all the time in the world."
"Joan, who is this?" Will asked, but Joan didn't answer. She grabbed Him by the collar of His jacket and pulled Him into the living room, out of too much earshot from everyone else.
"What do you want?" she snapped at Him in a hushed tone. "What could you possibly want from me now? Want me to throw myself in front of a moving train? Apparently, I will happily do so, because that's all I ever do! Joan Girardi, defender of the universe by putting herself in endangering situations that give more people reason to send her to the loony bin!"
"Joan," He spoke softly, but she didn't let Him start.
"No! Look, I don't care what you want now, but I've had it! I draw the line at watching one of my friends get killed! How could you even let that happen? Aren't you supposed to help us so that we don't die?"
"Everyone dies, Joan."
"But why her? Why now?" The tears that threatened to fall only minutes before were now pouring down from her eyes, quietly glistening to the floor. "You told me to befriend her, and I did! What was the point of me doing so if she was going to end up dead? To torture me?"
"No, Joan." He looked at her with concern, almost as if He were hurt that she would suggest such a thing. "I never torture."
"Then why did you put me through that?"
"Because Lisa needed to die happy, and because of you, she did."
Joan opened her mouth, but no words came out. God had made her speechless, and it didn't occur to her that—even though He didn't literally speak with everyone like He did with her—it was not the first time that He'd left a person dumbfounded.
After a minute, she found she could speak at least a little. She swallowed to clear up her dry throat and asked plainly, "What do you need me to do this time?"
"I'm not here to give you anything to do," He told her gently.
She frowned. "Then why—?"
"You're done, Joan," He said. Her eyes went wide for the second time that night.
"Are you saying I'm—I'm dead?" she shrieked, covering her gasp with her hand. Unbeknownst to her, her shrill voice could be heard by the rest of her family. They all watched Joan and the mysterious stranger convene together, none of them knowing what was really going on.
He chuckled. "Of course, you're not dead. No, Joan, what I mean is… you're done. I won't be asking you of anything else. You can live life without my ongoing presence—or, at least, my visual presence."
"You mean, no more tasks?"
"Well, I suppose I'll always be asking you of things, but right now, I'm only referring to the ones that you can actually hear."
"What, just like that, it's over? You can't be serious!"
He raised an eyebrow. He was serious.
"Dude, you can't do this to me! I've done everything for you! I was held at gunpoint for you, I destroyed my fiancé's art sculpture, thus ruining my relationship with for what felt like eternity; mind you, we are getting married next week, but I remember how bad it was when he hated me! I hated myself! I almost lost my virginity because of you, and now you're telling me that you don't need me anymore?!"
"I thought you would have been happy," He said blankly.
She rolled her eyes. "Oh, please! You knew and know that I wasn't going to be happy by these turn of events. God, God! What am I supposed to do now?"
"That's for you to decide, Joan." He brushed a hand softly over her cheek, and instantly, she felt calmer, even if she didn't want to. He gazed at her with a sincerity that almost made her feel bad about yelling at Him.
"So what now, then?" she asked. "I just go back to how things were? It's been seven years. How am I supposed to go about a normal life where you don't openly interfere? Shouldn't I get some sort of consolation?"
"You want a reward?" For a moment, Joan regretted mentioning anything on the subject, and that He might smite her or something for it, but He flashed her a bemused smile and said, "All right," instead of striking her down. "You're right. You do deserve something, don't you?"
She blinked and opened her mouth stupidly like a gaping fish.
"Close your mouth, Joan. What is it that you want?"
"You mean, I can have anything? You are God, after all, so you could get me anything, right?"
"So I could have, like, a million dollars or an island? What about a pony?"
"Do you want a pony?"
"I don't know. Do I want a pony?"
He shrugged. "It's only your decision, Joan."
"Yeah, but you can see inside people. You know what they truly want. Do I truly want a pony?" She waited for His answer, but none came. "Oh, right, that's it. You want me to look inside myself. Because you're just too cryptic like that." She pondered over what to ask for; the world was practically at her fingertips. Could she have world domination? Would God allow that? It was hard to imagine that God would let her have anything, but then again, he did agree that she should have something. But what if there was a lesson to all of this about selfishness? She didn't think that after all that had happened with Lisa, she could stand a moral on top of it all.
"This is hard," she whined.
"Life is hard," He replied.
"Wait—Is that it? Do I want something about life?" She gasped, thinking that the pieces were coming together. "Do I want to know that I'm gonna have a good life? I would like to know that."
"That's only up to you, Joan, and how you want to look at life. You don't need me to tell you that."
She went back to doubting any answer that could come out of her mouth. His stare didn't falter and his blank expression remained as impassive as ever. "What is it that you really want?"
She reminded herself that He wanted her to look inside herself for the answer. She reminded herself of all the things she'd wished for in the past.
She came to realize that she did not want a pony that badly.
"I want to know that I'm not crazy," she said, but she was sure that He already knew that.
"Redemption it is." Then, He brushed a hand over her dark brown locks and walked passed her, back to the dining room where her family couldn't have been sitting in their seats any more clueless.
"Excuse me, everyone," He spoke pleasantly. "I promise, I'm not going to take up much more of your time. Before I go, I would just like to ask you a few questions."
"What are you doing?" Joan asked from behind Him, and she was almost stunned when He ignored her.
"Can you all see me?" He inquired to the rest of the Girardis.
"Obviously," Luke answered, only to be shushed by Helen.
"It's all right, Helen," He said. "There's no need to worry."
"How do you know my name?" she asked shakily, but like her daughter, she was ignored, too.
"Can you all hear me?" He went on. "Can you feel me?" He stepped forward to the table and held his hand out in front of Helen. Will shook his head, as if mental insanity was contagious through the slightest touch. Later, when Will would question his wife's actions before they went to bed, Helen would tell him that she touched the boy's hand for no reason in particular—just that somehow, when the boy reached out and smiled at her, she felt safe with him standing beside her, like something that had been lost was finally been found, if only for a moment.
He turned to face Joan again. "There's your redemption, Joan."
She only stared at Him like she was truly seeing Him for the first time. She wondered if maybe she was.
"That's enough!" Will stood, pounding his hands on the table. "I'm not asking anymore, I'm demanding. Who are you? I'm a cop. Tell me who you are right now."
"You know who I am, Will," He said. "You all know who I am. I know who you are. And Joan…" He beamed at over at the girl in question. "She knows me better than anyone. She's part of something bigger than us all."
"You would know, wouldn't you?" she said softly.
He didn't need to reply, and they both knew that.
"I believe this is where I depart," He said quietly, because it hurt Him just as much as it hurt her. "Mind if I use your back door?"
"Do you need to ask that?"
"I may be almighty, but that doesn't mean I can't be polite. And to you all,"—He looked at the family, admiring each and every one of them—"I advise you never to lose hope." His eyes fell on Helen. "Never."
Helen decided she never would.
He pulled Himself out of the room as the silence of the family Girardi set in. For half a second, Joan thought that maybe, she could say something to keep Him from leaving, but she knew that it was pointless. She could only watch him move towards the door and wait.
His hand was at the knob, and the door was halfway open when He stopped and looked at Joan for a final time.
"Thank you, Joan."
She almost laughed. He was thanking her? God was thanking her?
"For what?" she scoffed, surprised, forgetting that her family was still there for what wasn't the first time that night. "For obeying your every command, no matter how life-threatening or dangerous or uncomfortable it was?"
He kept silent for a second, like He was contemplating a secret to let her in on. Finally, He answered, clear and cool and full of a heart that He created, "For believing in me."
She was left standing in His wake as He walked out the door to her home. A sense of uselessness came over her, but it was immediately away by something else, and she wondered if it was Him giving her the satisfaction and warmth she needed most. Then she shook the thought out of her head. There was no reason for it. She didn't need to think it was Him comforting her. She already knew for a fact that it was.
Despite the uncertainty of all that had just happened, a wide grin spread across Joan Girardi's face, one that hadn't appeared in a long time.
"I told you I wasn't crazy."